Until 2016, the term “fake news” referred to little more than pranks played by parody news blogs. For the most part, these fake news pieces were harmless. We debunked them. We laughed at our gullibility. We moved on.
A New Era
With the coming presidential election, fake news took on a whole new meaning. Fake news was now a phrase loaded with political undertones. Through fake news, accusations flew from one presidential candidate to the next, with the public caught in the middle.
Then, commercial entities got involved. PR stunts posed as genuine stories that went viral, and contributed to much of the confusion.
America and the world at large began to distrust the media. It was increasingly difficult to tell what was real, what was a marketing ploy, and what was just underhanded political tactics.
Who’s to Blame?
News agencies have been blamed for this more often than not. But most of the blame really belongs to public relations and marketing professionals. Yes. We said it.
Earlier this month, Founder & Managing Director, Alexis Chateau, shared her experiences with fake news pitches from clients in 2016, and how she dealt with them. Some had $800 price tags as a consequence, but integrity is priceless.
Read the full story here: The Big Question: How PR Pros Can Fight Fake News
The Fight Against Fake News
PR professionals want nothing but the best for our clients. After all, success for a client translates into success for a PR firm, and the team behind it.
Who doesn’t want to say their client’s ad went viral? That the author they represented became a bestseller? Or that the company had an unprecedented spike in sales, thanks to one very creative campaign?
But at what cost? As PR professionals, it’s time we hold ourselves – and our clients – to higher ethical standards.
Are you a PR & marketing professional or writer who was asked to create fake news? How did you handle the request? What is your advice for other professionals faced with this dilemma?
Sound off in the comments below!
8 Comments Add yours
I’m glad you tackled this question about Fake News. From my perspective, the Trump team seized upon this issue as a way of discrediting the Media. Trump did not have the mainstream media supporting him to get elected and now the plan is to discredit the media in the minds of the American voters. When the media publicizes evidence against Trump, he can laugh at them and proclaim it to be Fake News! Problem solved.
Hello John, you make a good point here. But even that is a PR strategy and requires their efforts to legitimize his claims.
I suppose now we watch and wait to see how PR, the media, and politics, recovers from the assault to credibility.
LikeLiked by 2 people
Yes, you are correct – it is very much a Trump PR strategy. It is upsetting because it undermines the most effective political watchdog in any democratic society. I read an article this morning that said that Trump has just a 40% approval rating – and said this is unbelievably low for a new president after completing his first 100 days. It claimed that Republicans in both houses will be reluctant to give him their approval when 60% of Americans don’t support him. It will be interesting going forward.
It’s a PR strategy but not necessarily a Trump one. A method that takes off with one user does not make them the author.
PR specialists have been using this method for some time, in and outside of politics, which was the point of the article.
If you haven’t already, we encourage you to check out the article we referenced.
Have a good one!
I didn’t say Trump or his team authored this PR strategy. I could care less who did – that’s irrelevant for me, but perhaps not for you.
We were merely trying to steer you back to the point of the article, which was the fight against fake news and PR’s role in advocating for ethical journalism; not American politics.
As a rule, we advocate for causes, but do not become engaged in political debates as a company.
For information, please view our ethics page: https://alexischateaullc.com/ethics/
~ Admin Team
Really important topic to discuss and highlight. How do you think this controversy of fake news will play out in the future? I believe, in this day and age, accurate news is hard to come by due to the user experience. Sometimes fake news sites look noteworthy because they align with similar designs as news outlets including the LA Times. Besides political news, how will fake news in general affect the average consumer in the future?
LikeLiked by 1 person
These are valid questions, but we aren’t equipped to answer them. We work in PR as opposed to strictly working in journalism and news media.
To risk a suggestion anyway, the best alternative is to stick to mainstream and traditional news media agencies, and to take news on social media with several grains of salt.