There’s no escaping the ever-growing threat of the “fake news” label – for media, and potentially as a huge PR crisis for communicators.
According to Cision’s State of the Media Report, journalists said that regaining trust amidst the rise of misinformation and fake news is one of the greatest challenges facing the media this year. Ninety-one percent of journalists report that the public has lost trust in the media over the past three years.
PR professionals and communicators face the same challenge as the media and must be careful to avoid even the appearance of false or deceptive content. But that’s nothing new to them. Communicators have always understood that transparency and clarity benefits their brand story. That’s how they retain the trust of audiences, who accept branded content so long as they have a full view of what it is and who it is from. That’s how communicators retain the trust of the journalists as well.
Journalists surveyed in the State of the Media Report rated press releases and story leads as the #1 most important PR resource. Earned media opportunities and media coverage rely heavily on brands’ storytelling integrity. Without it, a brand jeopardizes not only their relationships with the media and their customers, but they also risk backlash and damage to the brand.
Arm yourself with these five guidelines, supplied by PR Newswire, that will ensure your organization maintains credibility with your audience:
1. Straightforward Headline
As the gateway to your content, your headline should be clear and engaging. It should also be an honest teaser of what’s to follow, in order to maintain trust. If you make a promise in your headline, be sure you fulfill that promise in your content. And it’s usually best to include your company or brand name, so it’s clear to journalists and your audience who is originating this news.
2. Clear Attribution
Embrace your brand’s perspective and write clearly from that viewpoint. Attribute any statements of analysis or opinion to your organization. Audiences are more likely to trust your content if you’re upfront about who it’s coming from. This extends to quotes as well, which enrich a content piece, provide easy copy for journalists to use and adds a “human element” to the story.
3. Identifiable Source
Include a note identifying the “Source” organization within every release. Along with clear attribution within the release text, that “Source” tells the media and other readers the company or group responsible for the information.
4. Available Media Contact
Your media contact should be a real person, with a working phone number and an email address. Journalists prefer not to be directed to an 800-number or a website for information – that makes their job harder, and makes it less likely they’ll cover your news.
5. Authentic Voice
Once you’ve gained your audience’s trust through the above tactics, work to maintain it. How? Be firm in telling the whole truth and don’t exaggerate. And stick to your organization’s realm of expertise. There are times when it makes sense for a company to join in on a conversation about a timely topic, like when a financial institution writes about a recent change to the tax code.
That’s valuable thought leadership. Just make it clear who your organization is, their connection to the topic, and why audiences should see you as an expert.
Once your content is ready to be shared, connect with a trusted distribution partner to help you engage new and existing audiences and build out a distribution strategy that helps enhance your brand’s credibility and visibility.