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How Fake News Is Affecting Your PR

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May 25,2017

By Rich Kahn,

It may be 2017, but so far this year feels more like 1984, the dystopian novel. Despite having access to more knowledge than ever, fake news seems to be taking hold, and the public is eating it up.

Once an “alternative fact” gets steam, it continues to grow until some individuals can’t discern the real from the fake. When your business gets caught up in fake news, the consequences can be severe: tainted reputation, broken trust, and loss of revenue. 

It’s no surprise fake news is forcing brands to pivot their public relations strategies. Here are four ways fake news is changing the way you handle your PR.

Brand Safety Is Ramping Up

If you weren’t keeping a tight reign on your brand safety before, you sure are now. As fake news  continues to run rampant, keeping tabs on mentions of your company has never been more important.

Staying in the loop by using tools like Cision helps keep you one step ahead. And depending on what social platforms you’re using, you’re probably also monitoring LinkedIn and Twitter, which both offer notifications. The minute you hear your company’s name roped into a fake news story, the faster you’re able to react and do damage control.  


Fact-Checking Is on the Rise

Fact-checking sources is something that should naturally be engrained. But when you’re busy, it’s easy to get complacent and trust the stats your sources are giving you. However, we’re now living in the world of fake news. Brands can no longer afford to have a lackadaisical attitude toward fact-checking.

Now you trust no one, and always double-check the information you’re being given is accurate before you share. With tools like Google’s Fact Check tag, fact-checking has never been faster or simpler.

There’s no more excuses. You’ve got to get it correct, right out of the gate.


Trust Is Being Rebuilt With Transparency

A lack of transparency has made audiences skittish toward certain brands. In response, brands are making an effort to be more transparent when engaging with their audiences. To effectively build trust, they know there can be no secrets, which aids in the fight against fake news.

When a fake news article comes along, an audience will know it’s fake because it not only contradicts the facts that your brand has already laid bare, but also that the overall tonality is out of character for your brand.


Thought-Leadership Is Increasing

People are more likely to trust experts, than fake news sources with no authority in a specific industry or subject matter. To become a thought leader within their industry, brands are building their credibility by producing content in the form of blog posts, thought-leadership articles, and even videos to demonstrate expertise within a field. 

They’re also sharing others’ content. They know an audience isn’t going to trust a company who only shares one source of content. Incorporating others’ content (e.g. industry influencers and prominent publications) boosts trust because they’re providing another viewpoint.


Fake news isn’t going to go away. But companies that are able to adjust their PR strategies to protect their brand while strengthening their credibility will have an easier time combating fake news. 



Rich Kahn is the CEO of and has been recognized as a leader in the online advertising industry since 1993. Rich started, a digital marketing firm specializing in pay per click and pay per call advertising, in 2003 with his wife, Beth. Follow him on Twitter at @richkahn.

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