WHAT I LEARNED AT THE GLOBAL PR SUMMIT
Last month, I attended the third annual Global Public Relations Summit. The two-day conference brought together remarkable speakers and some of the brightest minds in communications. We discussed trends in public relations, social media, and crisis management. I’ve pulled together my top takeaways so that regardless of your role or industry, you can use them to enhance your communication efforts.
Fake news endangers connected societies
We don’t need the evening news to catch up on current events. Today, news breaks on social media first, leaving journalists scrambling to keep up. The media industry continues to lose revenue and fact-checking is becoming an afterthought to clicks, making it easier for false information to spread.
Relationships are royalty
Dana Dean, the National President of the Canadian Public Relations Society spoke about fake news as one of seven trends shaping the future of communications. She noted that while content was once king, relationships are the new royalty. Her advice? Don’t just take orders, the world is changing rapidly and you need to adapt and be flexible to stay relevant.
Collaboration in journalism
Linda Solomon Wood, the CEO of The Observer Media Group, Founder and Editor-In-Chief of The National Observer (a fellow B Corporation) mentioned that a whopping 12,000 media jobs were lost in Canada over the past decade. She talked about the need for collaboration in journalism and The Trust Project, a group of news companies that are developing transparency standards to help audiences spot fake news.
Be conscious of how you consume media
Emma Daly, Communications Director at the Human Rights Watch spoke about our human reliance on a shared understanding of facts. As journalistic integrity and the public’s trust in institutions declines, fake news continues to blur the lines between fact and fiction. This makes it challenging to hold those in power accountable. Xenophobic populist leaders use the notion of “othering” to divide constituents, the anti-Muslim riots in Sri Lanka were fueled by social media, pipe bombs were sent during the ‘pizzagate’ hoax, and the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya in Myanmar was also incited by false information. We have a choice about how we consume media, how we receive news, and whether or not we engage with and/or share it.
Resist shaming and focus on the truth
Craig Silverman, Media Editor at BuzzFeed talked about a factory in Macedonia where teens created fake news using outrageous headlines to get clicks and drive advertising revenue. The teens influenced the U.S. presidential election but they did not care about its outcome. He talked about Microchip who used multiple fake Twitter accounts to spread hoaxes and make them go viral. When multiple accounts share something, even if it is false, it can begin to take root.
According to Craig, organizations are vulnerable to misinformation campaigns. He recommends responding to false information with a multi-platform approach. This gives journalists multiple places to point to. Assess the situation and figure out how to best respond as soon as possible. Resist shaming and try to focus on the truth instead. Allow people who have latched on to the false information to let it go. If it’s appropriate, you should use humour, and visuals to support your response.
I look forward to sharing more of what I learned at the Global Public Relations Summit. In the meantime, if you have any questions feel free to send us a note.