Fake news, its impacts on business and how to avoid it

Fake news has been big news in media circles since the term came to prominence during last year’s brutal and bruising US presidential campaign.

CC BY SA 2.0 Gage Skidmore fake news

It has become the catch-all term used to discredit all sorts of stories which people don’t agree with, from heavyweight political scandals to the quirky, more lighthearted stories that are a mainstay on social media.

Websites even exist which deliberately publish hoaxes, propaganda and disinformation purporting to be real news, often using social media to drive web traffic and amplify the effect.

But what exactly is fake news, and could it harm your business?

To help you understand the potential impacts, we’ve put together a guide to fake news and the best way for you to get your stories out there.

What is fake news?

Fake news is produced to either generate clicks and advertising revenue, or to enhance, discredit or boost a politician, policy or organisation.

It is often filled with ‘alternative facts’ (lies and untruths) and is made purposely with the above objectives in mind.

Fake news can take many forms, including:

  • Disinformation: False information which is intended to mislead the audience, rather than explain the full story
  • Propaganda or spin: One-sided information, which often omits key facts or evidence which contradicts it
  • Subjective news: The presentation of one side of an argument more positively than the other
  • Infotainment: Usually stories about celebrities which are based largely on opinions rather than facts.

Fake news can be a good way of getting your business exposure and attention, and presenting stories to your advantage.

However, although this may be tempting, fake news can also damage your business.

By misleading your audience, you can damage your relationship with your customers.

If you have built up good contacts in the media, you can tank your goodwill from them by getting them to help spread stories about your business which you know aren’t strictly true.

It can also damage your authority and position as experts within your field, as well as destroy levels of trust between your business and your customers, leading to a loss in sales.

So, ask yourself, is it worth the risk?

How to not fall foul of fake news

The first, and most obvious, part of avoiding fake news is to not mislead your audience. Telling the truth and giving your audience all the facts they need are key to building a successful relationship and trust with them.

The second biggest aspect is to ensure that your story is newsworthy.

There needs to be something about your story that makes it interesting and prompts people to read it.

Think about your audience and ask why they should care about your story.

Is it something they need to know? Is it something that they need answering? Can your story help them in anyway?

If your audience would not care about your story, then you shouldn’t write it.

It’s also important to remember that an advert for your company or product is not news.

And be mindful of what you share on social media. It’s easy to inadvertently like, retweet or share a fake news story. But if you do, you’re unwittingly helping to spread the fake news. And you could fall foul of things further down the line if what you have shared turns out to be false.

Certain sections of the PR industry are renowned for using trickery, sleight of hand and dark magic to pull the wool over people’s eyes on behalf of their clients.

But if you’ve got a good story to tell, why rely on cheap gimmicks?

Knowing the best way to get your story out there can be difficult.

The PR and content team here at Purpose Media has many years’ combined experience of securing great news coverage for clients.

We’ve worked in newsrooms, on business magazines and in corporate press offices. So we know how to create good news stories based on the truth, not on ‘alternative facts’ and spin.

We can help you get your news out in the simplest and easiest way possible.

Conclusion

Fake news can come in many forms.

Although it can generate attention, it can also damage your business’ reputation and trust with your customers.

Why risk your reputation spreading fake news when we can help you share your real news instead?

Ready to start getting your stories out? Get in touch today.