Fake news may be fake, but it certainly isn’t new. In fact, we’d argue that the idea that “fake news is a new concept” is fake news in and of itself. Boom!
Though the concept—we’d previously refer to it as propaganda or a hoax, for instance—is old news, fake news’ sweeping damage in today’s world is unprecedented. The internet and social media, Facebook particularly, have given individuals widely increased accessibility to create and propagate untruths that range from bizarre to dangerous, and everything in between.
So what can we do, as PR people, to combat this epidemic?
We have to re-contextualize “the journalist” in this fake news landscape. We no longer rely on trusted journos to break new stories, but to verify the accuracy and reliability of other stories in our orbit. Our relationships with reporters are more important than ever—we need to ensure that the journalists we work with can be trusted, truthful and accurate.
We can no longer live in a reactive culture around fake news—we need to expect it, and prepare for it. Solid sources and facts will help to protect our clients and navigate through a fake news crisis.
We need to have courage and conviction if we believe our own stories to be the absolute truth. If we feel that a threat to our position arising, we need to hold firm and bolster our stances through both traditional and social media—write a blog post, for instance.
And we need to keep learning. If a fake news situation does arise, we need to retroactively analyze how and what happened so that we’ll be that much better equipped in the future. The protocols will be developed in real time, but it’s particularly on us as communications professionals to create the curriculum.