At the PRCA's 17 in 17 event last week, we were asked about the combined effect of fake news and increased cynicism about corporations. See below for the PRCA's recommendations.
1. Fake news
While 2016 saw much discussion of political fake news, in future businesses will also be subject of aggressive campaigns based on misinformation. The need for intensive social media monitoring, rapid rebuttal, flexibility and empowerment of frontline communicators has never been greater.
2. Reputation and trust
Cynicism about corporations is high, and every board should consider if it is close enough to the needs of society. For challenger brands, there is a huge opportunity to displace established players by questioning their motives and actions.
3. Brand identity
Brexit and Donald Trump have illuminated profound differences in how chunks of the population view themselves and, notably, how they associate with different brands. Brands are going to have to work out how their identity deals with this new cleavage.
I think the effect is a delicious, seething mass of despair and opportunity for PR professionals.
It intensifies resource requirements to monitor and react to breaking news (fake or otherwise). It lowers audiences’ mental barriers to accepting falsehoods about organisations. It increases scepticism when corporations try and set the record straight. It provides a platform from which smaller competitors can call out poor corporate citizenship of industry giants. It creates much head scratching about corporate brand values and how ‘real’ they are.
I’m an optimist, so I’m going to say that this could drive up the perceived value of PR within corporations (in the same way as crisis management does) and the size of PR and research budgets and, potentially, the coffers of agencies. This is good news (though the trends make me personally uncomfortable).