Karl James & Company: Countering Fake News

Countering Fake News

Fake news is coming. In fact, it’s already here. And has been for some time.

The presidential election of Donald Trump just brought it front and center for all of us. The aftermath of reporting on the impact of fake news and what to do about it continues. From comedic night time programming like the Daily Show to fake news sites online, there’s more reputational risk now than ever. And here’s why:

Media LandscapeResearch shows search engines and social media platforms are outperforming two of the three historically most influential media platforms—newspapers and magazines.

While social media is not exactly trustworthy, according to researchers, it is widely used. Social media provides a powerful means of sharing information—whether true or not. And it lives on forever. Which is why false information online must be addressed. The crisis will pass, but with every crisis there’s an opportunity.

The following example involves one of our clients who was attacked on social media.

A national retailer client of Karl James & Company faced relentless online criticism from a consumer with a record of shaking down businesses on social media. The consumer turned to Facebook with baseless claims to secure compensation. She even filed frivolous Better Business Bureau complaints. All attempts to resolve the issue were ineffective. Anything short of meeting outrageous monetary demands was rejected by the disgruntled consumer.

“Managing risk is becoming more complex across all sectors – from greater transparency and accountability to increased public scrutiny and technological sophistication.”–Baker Tilly, Governance, Risk, Compliance

Here are a few tips to counter social media attacks:

  • Remember: power comes from communicating positively, constructively, and directly with those that matter.
  • Realize the attacker is not going away and likely will continue to bombard you.
  • Overtime, through actively counteracting each attack, you form a public record of engagement and paint a picture of trust and responsiveness with current and potential customers.
  • Initially, we would not recommend pursuing a strategy of removing the attacker’s comments and banning the attacker.
  • Rather, we would recommend ongoing, online engagement designed to turn complaints into opportunities to illustrate your brand and all it promises.
  • Prior to moving forward with any campaign to counteract online attacks always involve legal counsel too.
  • One side note, however—when in crisis your lawyer will always be wrong. At least as it pertains to the court of public opinion. The rules in a court of law—if you don’t say something, it cannot be used against you—don’t translate to victory in the court of public opinion.

To receive a case study on how Karl James & Company countered this social media attack—complete with sample messaging and strategies—please email credibilitymovespeople@karljames.com