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:




Shout Out to CBS on PR Advice for Small Business

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

You and all my thousands of regular readers (okay, hundreds; well, more like dozens) probably wonder where ideas originate for new PRDude posts.

Lots of places, actually, including from the original non-print mass communications medium — radio.

Inspiration can strike anytime; like while behind the wheel of a still fine automobile.

Inspiration can strike anytime; like while behind the wheel of a still fine two-decade-old automobile. No, it’s not for sale.

For example, while driving Sunday in my now vintage 1996 Camry on errands, I heard a spot for CBS Small Business Pulse, described on its Facebook page as a “go-to, daily resource for the small business owner.” That aptly describes the site, which features content on finance, human resources, legal, marketing, sales and technology for the small businessman or woman.

The radio spot I heard referred to content on — you guessed it — public relations, or more specifically, hiring public relations counsel; Naturally, I was inspired to explore and learn more from the Small Business Pulse site.

Small business

If the team from Small Business Pulse reads this post: Feel free to include my suggestions on how to work effectively with PR counsel.

In the Marketing section, I found the article in question:  “Expert Knowledge To Best Prepare Your Small Business When Hiring A Public Relations Firm.”

The article, credited to the owner of a Dallas PR firm, offers some very good first steps: Learn about the different kinds of public relations agencies and consultants in the marketplace; set realistic expectations for results; and, plan to work in partnership with the counsel you hire.

But I felt the post could have offered small business owners more advice. So as a service to small business owners everywhere, here are three other critical factors to consider before engaging in PR counsel:

  1. Transcend Publicity. Effective modern public relations equals more than attention and coverage by the media and bloggers. Small business owners should demand their agency do much more, such as identify potential threats to the company or provide crisis communications counsel.
  2. Center on Strategy. Effective modern public relation programs are based on strategy. Small business owners should demand that the scope of work presented by the agency is built around sound strategies cultivated from primary research, market analysis and an understanding of client’s products or services.
  3. Measurable Results. Effective modern public relations success is realized by more than media placements. Small business owners should demand results that illustrate how the communications services provided led to more sales, increased attendance, better awareness or greater market share.

There’s more I could share, but I’ve hit the proverbial wall. Perhaps another ride in the Camry is needed.