Being Real is the Kryptonite to Fake News

Crisis communication managers have a big, new risk to monitor these days. It’s called fake news. It wasn’t enough that those of us who are in the business of helping our client organizations through all the bad, real things that can happen to them. Now, we must prepare for situations or accusations that never actually occurred.

The biggest problem with fake news is that simply denying that the accusation or situation never occurred is no longer enough to put the matter to rest. This is the unfortunate testament to the stranglehold fake news is having on us. When public surveys continue to show that a share of the public is buying into the fake news being the truth, it creates a new category of potential risk for crisis managers. One recent survey from the Pew Research Center shows that only 26 percent of Americans could correctly distinguish between a factual statement and an opinionated point of view.

The best antidote to fake news is transparency. While a simple denial of the fake news is not enough, a full explanation with facts to back up the denial might be enough either. Organizations are sometimes hesitant at the notion of transparency, but the question that must be answered is, “What’s worse — fake news being believed or full transparency revealing some things the organization would have preferred stay private?”

Being real is the kryptonite to fake news. Organizations that are transparent to all their key audiences — both internal and external — gain the trust and support of everyone. And when an organization is credible and trusted, a potential crisis from fake news is less likely to take hold and negatively impact its reputation.