Fake news – or the reference to articles or stories published with untrue information that is claiming to be real news — is not a new concept. But while fake news has been around for some time, its recent proliferation has been at unprecedented rates due to expanding use of technology.
Fake news has the potential to do irreversible damage to people and organizations, which is why government agencies must be extra diligent in ensuring the information they disseminate is credible. Granicus’ recent Digital Engagement Training: Staying Relevant in a World of Fake News offered insight into how governments can maintain credible digital communications in the fake news era. During the training, Vivian Schiller, Global Editor-in-Chief at Weber Shandwick, and Natalie Fedie, Vice President of Customer Success at Granicus, discussed how the fake news trend is affecting government communication departments and what they can do to counter the phenomenon.
How to Prepare for Fake News
Schiller explained that there are three ways government agencies can best prepare to tackle fake news:
- Assess and Plan. It is critical that your agency understands where their audience is getting their news and to audit that landscape. From there you can prioritize and develop mitigation strategies and identify a reputation risk management core group that will be able to counter instances of fake news.
- Equip and Engage. Schiller recommended a proactive approach to your agencies preparations. “Practice training and rehearsing to ensure that your team is ready to engage at speed and plan socialization before a crisis to align actions and approach key stakeholders across communications, HR, legal and compliance teams,” she said.
- Use Values to Drive Decisions. “Your corporate values are the lens for which you should respond to fake news so you have to have a good understanding of them,” Schiller explained. This allows you to maintain an authentic and consistent brand in the face of adversity.
How to Build the Right Digital Communications Strategy to Combat Fake News
An effective digital communications strategy is another way that government agencies can work towards mitigating the impact of fake news and ensuring that your audience is engaging with credible content. “While government communicators are not necessarily journalists , you still have the same responsibility of publishing informative content to the public and stakeholders. . And to combat fake news, there is nothing more valuable than controlling your message and communicating directly to your audience,” Fedie explained.
To ensure that your message cuts through the clutter of social media channels you need to make sure you are reaching as many people as possible through your digital communications channels. It starts by leveraging your web properties to acquire subscribers and networking with partner agencies to cross promote content and accelerate audience growth.
Another benefit to owning your audience and your content is having the ability to measure the quality of your subscribers and effectiveness of your digital communications efforts. Is your audience engaged with your content? Are you converting your call to action into measurable outcomes? What is the value of those outcomes in achieving your agency’s mission? Developing a solid communications strategy that includes defining outcomes, expanding reach, choosing the right communications channels and content, will guarantee successful engagement campaigns and effectively minimizing the impact of fake news.
Ready to start preparing your agency to combat fake news? Take the Digital Engagement Strategy Assessment to start building an effective digital communications strategy today.