During the 2016 presidential elections, President Donald Trump stirred up a public frenzy about fake news. The ripples of this mania can be felt and seen throughout the B2B PR sector.
A recent UKPulse survey of UK residents conducted by Gorkana shows just how deep this distrust of media has become. Asked what specific sources they trusted for news, 72% chose close friends, family, and personal contacts followed, in order of preference, by national radio, local radio, community sites or online forums, and financial institutions.
On the other end of the scale,, respondents chose social media as the least trustworthy source — with only 18% of respondents finding Facebook trustrworthy and a mere 17% rating Twitter trustworthy.
Traditional media outpaced online media.
Ony 40% said online news sources were trustworthy and just 34% found bloggers trustworthy. That compares to 59% of respondents who noted TV as trustworthy; national radio received 56%, local radio received 54% and regional papers notched 48%.
So with plenty of distrust to spread around, how can honest, upright PR professionals gain public trust?
That’s what we’re here to discuss. We’ve gathered 8 stellar ways that you can rebuild public trust.
8 Ways to Fight Against Fake News in B2B PR
1. Go Traditional
As we noted in the survey above, people are turning more toward traditional outlets for trusted news stories. These traditional outlets include national and local radio, regional newspapers, and television.
Find the media outlets that your target audience trusts the most, and use those to promote your stories.
2. Research All Your Facts Thoroughly
Have you ever played the game “telephone”? This childhood game starts with a simple statement that is whispered down a line only to be completely distorted by the time it reaches the end. Fake news stories can begin in much the same way — with one simple fact that’s slowly transformed until it’s an unrecognizable falsehood.
As PR professionals, we can prevent this. Before promoting any story on social media or elsewhere, it’s imperative that we thoroughly verify all the facts. A little extra work beforehand can save our reputation in the long run.
It seems like the legitimacy of media outlets and content itself is being questioned.–John Hall
3. Work Hard to Earn Credibility with Readers
Remember what source was overwhelmingly voted as the most trustworthy from the survey above? Friends, family, and personal contacts are who people turn to for reliable information. How can you leverage this? Through your prospects and customers.
Build a reputation of trust and credibility among your prospects and customers. This will translate into a golden seal of approval when they recommend your information to their contacts.
The real opportunity I see here is for product brands to stake their claim by becoming the trusted news resource for the audience they cover. –Joe Pulizzi
4. Give Credit Where Credit Is Due
Attribution adds an air of transparency to our work. When readers can click through and check for themselves the source of any given fact or figure, they are more likely to trust the information as a whole. This confidence will build over time until your audience has complete faith in you as a source.
5. Address Rumors Immediately
The worldwide web is a hot breeding ground for rumors and outright lies. As PR professionals, we need to be on top of those rumors that can affect our clients’ brands and reputations. But how do you quash the lie without calling attention to it?
The key is not to hide it — this will only make you look suspicious. Acknowledge it, but don’t fuel it. Create an official statement on social media channels that addresses the issue. Use third party advocates to contradict the rumor and stop it before it grows.
6. Be Vigilant About Fake News on Social Media
Social media is where a lot of fake news stories gain their momentum. View your social media feed as your reputation to the outside world. When you share or link to a false news story, it mars that reputation. It also perpetuates it. It’s like giving oxygen to fire — the false news grows in strength and popularity.
But, of course, many fake news stories may appear real, and even have a legitimate source. Here’s where taking the time to do research comes into play. Don’t hop on a hot news story just because it’s trending. Hold back on that share button until you can verify that all the information is factual. If it’s not, make sure it ends with you.
7. Be Transparent
Many companies will fund research projects — the results of which can be used to promote their brand. While there’s nothing wrong with this — in fact it can be an excellent way to build thought leadership — when the source of the funded project is hidden, it can promote the idea that the research is tainted.
Right from the beginning, companies need to be transparent about their funded research — especially when quoting statistics that came from that research. Otherwise, if it comes out later, that research will be viewed with skepticism.
8. Go Micro
Micro-persuasion, that is. It seems that the more general a message is, the more it is distrusted. PR professionals can combat this by carefully targeting smaller, segmented audiences, and addressing a specifically tailored message to each one.
Start by segmenting your audience into smaller groups, and then finding out what specific pain points each one has. The more specific your message, the less chance it will be viewed as fake.
A Few Points to Remember…
- Traditional media outlets, such as radio, TV, and regional newspapers are regarded with more trust.
- Build your credibility with individual readers, and you will be recommended to friends and family — the ultimate stamp of approval.
- Do thorough research, and make absolutely sure that everything you share is legitimate news.
- Specifically target smaller audiences with a specially tailored message.
If you are worried about the impact of fake news on your B2B company, you now have the ammunition you need to protect yourself. Be proactive, and fight for the truth — people will ultimately recognize and appreciate it!
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