How much of a problem is fake news for PR? Over the last few weeks, consumers have been forced into a position of being sceptical about the accuracy of reporting from news outlets. The increasing problem of fake news has tarnished the public’s trust in the media and has ultimately created a world of people with little faith in what is published, analysing and criticising all that they read and taking stories with a pinch of salt.
As the media is one of the key communication devices for PR professionals, it is no wonder that the scepticism coming from consumers has caused anxiety within the industry. Fake news has, to some extent, devalued PR calling into question the legitimacy of the stories that once would have been considered true and accepted.
However, the fake news epidemic could work to the advantage of PR professionals, who have an opportunity to use their relationship with journalists – a relationship based on trust – to become a reliable source of information. In a choppy sea of fake news, the PR industry could just be the lighthouse that saves journalism from drowning in waves of uncertainty and inaccuracy.
Any business could be on the receiving end of a fake news story and these stories can easily go viral through digital and social media. It is important to have a plan of action in place to ensure that any fake news issues are handled efficiently and smoothly. A crisis plan which outlines how to address false rumours could be crucial in ensuring brand reputations are upheld.
While fake news has the potential to be devastating for some, on the whole it creates opportunities for PR to shine. Not only can we build on our relationships with the media, but we can also be the white knight for brands that are in the fake news firing line.