Fake news: Consultants task reputation managers on storytelling

With the growing trend of fake news and their negative effects on brand building efforts, Public Relations consultants have urged reputation managers to deploy enough story telling techniques to avert the spread of negative stories that endanger their clients’ brands on social media and other media platforms.

The experts, who gathered at the Public Relations Consultant Association (PRCAN) Master Class on Digital PR held recently pointed out that online reputation management is imperative for every brand.

The growing global trend of fake news has led organizations like Google and Facebook to reinvent their technology. Google added its fact check feature to search results globally. The search giant will now highlight “authoritative sources” in search results, with a summary of claims that have been fact-checked. It will display who made the claim and if a third party organization has found it to be true, false or somewhere in between.

Similarly, Facebook’s new feature uses established fact checking organizations to alert users on stories that might not be true. The goal is to get users to stop for just a moment before sharing something and question what they’re actually reading. Google and Facebook have had a significant role in the spread of fake news.

Martha Okpeke, Accounts Director at Mediacraft Associates, urged PR practitioners to tell their stories differently and interestingly. She stated that the digital space gives reputation managers the opportunity to tell their stories to heterogeneous publics spread across the world.

She, therefore, tasked brands to monitor what is said about them online or in other media platforms to be able to reposition their brands for acceptance.

Okpeke said PR has shifted from the conventional style of just distributing press releases to a digital age of telling stories in video format, audio, text and other innovative ways that speaks to the consciousness of the public.

In the same vein, Celestine Achi, a digital PR strategist and CEO, CIHAN Group, implored brands and PR consultants to be social media friendly as majority of their target market have a huge presence online.

Achi explained further that online reputation management will save brands from falling into crisis that could be avoided through an urgent response to a negative report or comment before it goes viral.

Muyiwa Akintunde, Vice President, PRCAN, called for innovation and creativity in the discharge of PR duties. He pointed out that only innovative consultants or practitioners would survive in the industry judging from the wide opportunities in the digital space.

The setting up of digital PR arm in most PR agencies has further showed that agencies are adapting to modern realities. Before now, most digital PR works were handled by non-PR professionals who have little or no knowledge of how PR works.


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