They’re Back! More Fake Followers Follies for the PRDude

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

Hope my new followers are inspired by these words of wisdom from 19th century poet Thomas Moore. Courtesy of Good Morning Quote.com

Without question, fake news is a big topic these days, one addressed seemingly daily in print news articles, broadcast commentaries and presidential tweets.

And, to share my perspective, the PRDude issued a manifesto of sorts on fake news in a January 2017 post.

Rest assured, fake news more than likely won’t pass from the national lexicon any time soon. Well, I’ve had a similar perspective about what I’m referring to as “fake followers.”

As noted in this post from January of this year, I started receiving messages from WordPress announcing new followers — but followers with ponderously long and nonsensical email addresses.

Well, they’re back.

Over the past week, I’ve learned that these “people” now follow this blog:

  • creeduogeorgiannecf@outlook.com
  • thiesnylaquandae@outlook.com
  • montenegroiphungki@outlook.com
  • carlyleoshenikak@outlook.com

Visits to Google to ascertain something — anything — about the origins of these Outlook account holders yielded no rational results.

Since January, I’ve made no dramatic changes to the PRDude in terms of the subject of posts or frequency. And, none of these newly minted fans have commented on my thoughts.  (Well, not yet.)

So, why do I continue to get these alerts announcing obviously fake followers?

I have a theory: Russian hackers.

Yes, Russian hackers. Why? Well, because we tend to blame lots of stuff on these scurrilous scoundrels halfway around the world, so perhaps they are behind this covert scheme to pad my follower roster with bogus names.

Read this Fortune magazine article published today and you’ll learn that the U.S., U.K. and Australia issued new claims that the Russians are behind a new wave of massive online espionage and sabotage.

So, comrade, or whatever name you prefer: I’m on to you.

Advertisements

Edelman 2018 Trust Barometer Results: If There Ever Was a Need for Ethical, Effective Public Relations, It’s Now

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

One great advancement of modern society is the ability to develop a methodology that let’s us gather and analyze data in order to provide a perspective or determine a direction on a specific topic or issue

Image courtesy of the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer web site.

These take shape as research reports and survey findings; but even today’s weather report and the Dow Jones Industrial Average are aggregations of data that help us make decisions and illuminate what’s happening around us.  In the case of the former example just noted, we might be propelled to buy or sell securities, and in the case of the latter, we gain the insight to perhaps bring an umbrella when venturing outside.

The other day, I decided to explore another data yardstick, one that addresses the very foundation of the public relations profession — and certainly many others — as well as the more encompassing concept of moral behavior.

The medium is the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, the annual report designed to gauge trust and credibility. Published by a division of the global communications firm, key findings from the recently-released report are beyond sobering, unquestionably alarming and frankly depressing.

Trust in the United States, the Barometer reported, has plummeted among the general population surveyed, pushing the nation down to the lower quarter of the 28 nations included in the study. Among those polled who ranked among the informed population, the findings were even more bleak: The United States ranked the lowest of nations surveyed.

Media organizations — for decades the standard for trust and accuracy — were battered, too.  According to the 2018 Barometer, the media for the first time in the 18 years of the report was listed as “the least trusted institution globally.”

This news story published by Edelman provides more details.  And, Edleman President and CEO Richard Edleman encapsulates the 2018 Barometer findings in this poignant comment from the Executive Summary.  “As we begin 2018, we find the world in a new phase in the loss of trust: the unwillingness to believe information, even from those closest to us.”

So, what can the public relations industry and those of us who practice and promote ethical, honest communications do in the face of the decline of trust in our nation and the media?

Plenty.

Here’s a start:

  • Adhere to established standards for ethical communication. If you need a place to learn, refresh or get started, the PRSA Code of Ethics offers a solid foundation.
  • Call out instances of erroneous or malicious communications. Remaining on the sidelines enables those bent on disseminating lies, conjecture and “fake news.”
  • Enlist others to lobby for responsible communications practices. Inspire debate among colleagues, family and friends.
  • Forward this post to everyone within your network and subscribe to future PRDude posts.

Well, kidding about the last item.  (Sort of.) For an alternative, forward a link to the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer.

Feel free to share your thoughts, of course, on strategies and tactics the public relations industry can initiate to reverse the decline of trust today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In This Era of Fake News, Let’s Remember the Impact of Fake PR

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

Long before the idea of “fake news” — otherwise known as “lies,” “falsehoods,” “misinformation” or “conjecture” — became part of the national lexicon, there was a mistrust by some regarding information disseminated by traditional print and broadcast media sources.

Lots of things, including public relations practices, are “fake” these days. Image courtesy of Slate.

Now, of course, with digital communications fully ensconced in modern society and the national conversion embroiled in mistrust of who’s ever on the other side, “fake news” is part of the new normal and more than likely will be forever.

This prompted me to ponder communications from another perspective, that being, communications originating from public relations professionals. And, in this case, I employ the “professionals” qualifier with trepidation related to some.

Perhaps it’s time to address the “fake” premise in another way — that being “fake PR.”

Actually, there’s a communications company based in Berlin, Germany named Fake PR.  Not sure why this name was selected, but according to the company’s website, it maintains an impressive client base and lists 14 services under the public relations category.

And, in researching this post, I found a few articles on the subject, including this well-crafted piece published earlier this year by Forbes.

So, what exactly constitutes providers of “fake PR” services? Here, in totally random order, are some qualifiers to consider:

  • Void of strategic direction and use of research.
  • Reliant on vanity metrics for demonstrating progress or success.
  • Failure to recognize the evolution and growth of strategic public relations in the 21st century.
  • Focused primarily or entirely on media relations and publicity.
  • Violation of or lack of awareness for established ethical standards.
  • Absence of any formal or voluntary education in public relations or communications within the account team.
  • Not comprehending the difference between public relations and marketing or advertising.
  • Distribution of news releases, social media posts and web content that lack news value or are erroneous.
  • Failure to recognize that public relations professionals provide strategic counsel that transcends the perfunctory, specifically media relations.
  • And, equating public relations with propaganda.

These thoughts hopefully will inspire others to comprehend the idea of “fake PR” and continue the dialogue.

Now, it’s your turn: What can you add to this discussion?

* * *

The PRDude has tackled this subject before. Here are a few posts to revisit:

 

 

 

“Build-A-Wall Burger” Fiasco Perhaps Opening Salvo on What’s to Come

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

Let’s face it: It’s challenging to keep up with national news today, even with the ability for anyone with new technology (think smart phone, tablet) or even old technology (television, radio) to absorb and comprehend what’s happening in this increasingly crazy world of 2017.

And, for this conversation, I’m referring to “real news,” not the so-called “fake news,” which I addressed in a post earlier this month, or the newfangled type of communication based on “alternative facts.

build-wall-burger

This image, courtesy of the Channel 7 online report, provides a graphic depiction of the menu item in question and written description of how patrons could order the now-gone “Build-A-Wall” burger.

Last week, while driving in my now vintage Toyota Camry, I head a report on the radio, a decidedly old form of communication, about a northwest suburban Chicago restaurant/night club that generated negative exposure by doing something totally uncalled for, insensitive and plain stupid.

And, you guessed it: The news was related to something happening that has an impact on our nation.

As detailed in this ABC Channel 7 television story, Durty Nellie’s in the Chicago suburbs of Palatine offered patrons the option to purchase a “Build-A-Wall Burger,” clearly a not-so-clever marketing initiative designed to play off the Trump administration’s proposal to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

Along with stacking 4 ounce hamburger patties, patrons could top off the sandwich with “some amazing Mexican ingredients!”

Really?

Not sure if this menu option — now dropped — was a hit with the folks who patronize Durty Nellie’s. I am sure that this calculated attempt to sell hamburgers through a correlation to an exceptionally polarizing international issue is representative of something wrong with society today: Take advantage of what makes headlines in order to make a profit, regardless of who might be affected.

My point here: If a modest, but quite successful local establishment (Durty Nellies has been in existence for several years according to my memory) made news with a lamebrained promotion, what kind of morally and politically incorrect messages can we expect in the future from other businesses across this great nation?

 

 

If It’s “Fake” It’s Not “News”

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka the PRDude)

Let’s start with this assertion: The concept of erroneous or inaccurate information shared for public consumption — most recently given the title “fake news” — has been around for a long, long time.

We can expect the "fake news" invasion to continue for a long, long time. Image source: Snopes.

We can expect the “fake news” invasion to continue for a long, long time. Image source: Snopes.com.

Possibly as long as human beings began communicating. That’s because so-called “fake news” also can be construed as “telling a lie,” and there’s no question men and women have told lies for a long, long time.

Only, in this era of instantaneous digital communications that can originate from virtually anyone or any organization with a broadband connection, fabricated messages void of truth can prove very harmful for society. At least society as we know it today.

Come on! Did you really believe that Pope Francis threw his support toward Donald Trump? Photo courtesy of GazetteReview.com.

Come on! Did you really believe that Pope Francis threw his support toward Donald Trump? Image source:  GazetteReview.com.

This was made especially clear in the months leading to the 2016 national elections, when seemingly bizarre stories — Pope Francis throwing support to Donald Trump — surfaced, were propagated and believed by many.  One can ascertain that more “news” of this type will surface in the future.

So, in the debut post of 2017, the PRDude offers this manifesto of sorts to members of the media, fellow public relations professionals and anyone who will listen:

Stop referring to lies, misinformation, fabricated facts and erroneous online content and messages as “fake news.”

As I, and assuredly millions of others maintain, what makes “news” and defines newsworthiness  is based on factual occurrences, trends or developments that meet certain criteria, including:  What took place, where it took place, who or what was involved and what was compelling or interesting.

If a report is based upon “fake” information, it is not “news.”

There. I feel better. And, that’s the truth.