What is fake news? And why is it becoming more and more common nowadays? Fake news consists of deliberate miscommunication or false information about some topic or individual that is meant to be spread most commonly through online sources such as social media. As our world becomes increasingly digital, fake news is easily amplified through online sources. Individuals more often turn to online sources and social media for news rather than traditional print sources. Naturally, people are prone to trusting everything they see online, making fake news a serious problem in the media. As Public Relations professionals, we must follow these steps to fight fake news.
News Source Credibility – Before you pitch any product or release any writing, make sure that you check and double-check your news sources. Create a personal assessment checklist when you find new news sources. Watch out for signs of credibility through possibly altered photos or serious grammar issues. Also keep an eye out for common fake news websites that can be found here. Additionally, there are many online resources such as FactCheck.org that are free and easily accessible.
Exercise Transparency – As PR professionals, content creation has been more prominent and important than ever. By creating original content, make sure that your message is transparent and honest. One of the most important steps in fighting fake news is to stop the creation of fake news. Never create misleading content for marketing purposes as ultimately, integrity is priceless. Common creation of fake new will undermine the authenticity of your brand and voice. Another way to exercise transparency would be a consistent reporting of corporate or company news to the public. This way, there is a credible and constant source of information that consumers can refer to.
Correct Fake News – There are many media monitoring tools that are available online. Turn on notifications for these tools in order to analyze your company or client’s online mentions and monitor the authenticity of the mentions. When misinformation arises, be sure to have a crisis plan on hand in order to quickly respond. Make sure that you do not link back to the fake news in order to avoid additional attention. When addressing the fake news in your communication, do not reiterate the fake news but instead focus on facts and certification in order to support your arguments. In other words, make sure that you extinguish the fire instead of fanning the flames.
Don’t let fake news undermine authority and authenticity.
During President Obama’s farewell speech in Chicago, he said “Increasingly, we become so secure in our bubbles that we start accepting only information, whether it’s true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that is out there”. It is important for us to recognize and react to fake news in order to prevent the spread of misinformation.
— Belle Zhang