It is also important to consider recommendations from public relations professionals who have maneuvered the fake news environment. Through interviews with 21 public relations professionals in agencies and corporations, Ewing and Lambert (2019) developed strategic recommendations for combating online fake news attacks.
First, practitioners should have a contingency plan. If ever the subject of fake news coverage, it is better to have developed a strategic response strategy in advance. Research also revealed that during a fake news crisis, practitioners should engage with online influencers. Although this may seem counterintuitive, online influencer hold significant power. Thus, engaging influencers may aid practitioners in shaping the online conversation.
Ewing and Lambert (2019) offer the following ideas for online engagement:
- Build goodwill in advance
- Inspire advocacy
- Correct false information
- Be responsive and transparent
- Integrate media relations and social media strategies
Their findings also suggest that listening to stakeholders is a key factor in preparing for a fake news crises. Taking a proactive approach, practitioners should listen for potential issues, to identify influencers, and to include diverse perspectives.
- Compare and contrast the different types fake news.
- Reflect on your own experiences and encounters with fake news stories. Think of an instance for each level of fake news and analyze their individual public relations approach.
- Of all the Page Principles, which do you think is the most important ethical value for public relation professionals to uphold and why?
- With future technological developments, do you anticipate that fake news will become more or less of a problem?
- How can a client avoid being the focus of fake news?
- How can public relations professionals manage fake news crises?