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?

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

 

 

 

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“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.