Public Relations is not propaganda
Many think public relations involves spinning the truth into something grotesque. Some PR practitioners invoke the dark art of manipulating media to push an agenda. However, effective PR or public relations today builds trust, not fake news.
When fake news dominates however, mistrust reigns. More people do not trust spiritual institutions, the mainstream media, politicians, and social networks anymore.
And this lack on trust and confidence impacts even our health. Take a look at how people behave during the present novel coronavirus crisis in China and the Philippines.
Panic v. 2019 NCoV
Note that mistrust has gripped not just China especially in how government handled today’s novel coronavirus or the 2019 NCoV. The death of the 34-year-old doctor Li Wenliang further fueled the global alarm. Among the first to send out through the social media app Weibo about the novel coronavirus, the Chinese police nabbed Li for “rumor mongering.” Mistrust, even panic and sinophobia, reign as well in the Philippines.
Early last year, the Philippines fought one of the world’s worst measles outbreak when the country nearly eliminated the disease some 15 years ago. The archipelago had over 33,000 cases and 466 deaths from the vaccine-preventable disease. Among other causes, the outbreak has been driven by distrust of vaccines.
Build trust and credibility
“Public relations is the art of telling your story to the right people in the right way. It willingly turns its back on publicity that seeks ink at all cost.” This is what marketing guru Seth Godin asserted in his iconic “This is Marketing.”
For Godin, there are marketers that seek publicity only. However, serious PR professionals find it more important to pursue the establishment of good relationships among various stakeholders.
Good relationships means the existence of trust. The PR professional needs to be credible and trusted among the stakeholders to be effective in forging such good relationships. However, how can such a PR professional earn trust if he engages in propaganda and fake news?
Instead, he or she should be believed in preparing or delivering an authentic and credible story.
The PR professional, in helping a client become a thought leader for example, needs to be authentic and credible himself. He or she should be competent or well-informed on the subject at hand and has a reputation of trustworthiness. The PR man or lady should not be at the bottom of the credibility totem.
However, building trust means consistently being seen and perceived as an authentic, credible, trustworthy, and competent. And don’t fret. This is the easiest to live with.
A trusted PR professional can make a promise and keep it. In the process, he or she earns more trust. He or she can tell stories that people listen to, then earn more trust. PR builds trust, not fake news.
Shun fake news
“Fake news are stories that seemed true but are actually false,” said Christina Nagler in an article published by the Harvard Summer School.
During the Cold War, people call spreading fake stories as disinformation and misinformation. Earlier in World War II, Hitler and Goebbels refer to fake news campaigns as propaganda. But the rise of social media and President Donald Trump of the United States popularized the term and actual use of fake news in business, politics, even war.
James Carson of The Telegraph constitutes a good read:
How to spot fake news?
In an environment of mistrust and fake news, responsible Netizens will fact check first before sharing so-called news. Here’s what Facebook advised us:
Another resource for checking if a post is fake news or not:
Build trust, not fake news
Trust is critical to the practice of public relations. One can’t practice public relations, especially on the point of forging relationships, without credibility and trust. To gain this trust, one must trust others. Trust becomes reciprocal. And one must also be trustworthy.
On one hand, influence or even using communication for self-serving interests would damage trust. On the other hand, trust requires years of consistent actions.
Yes, trust is a long game. Trust takes years to build and seconds to destroy. The key to building trust involves a long-term brand strategy that embraces authenticity, credibility and provability.
PRworks Inc., believes in public relations that seeks to manage perceptions, accelerate growth, and uplift lives. Managing perceptions does not mean engaging in media manipulation, propaganda and fake news. Helping a client make news or defend reputations does not mean going into deception and making stuff up. Helping a client does not include doing fake news.
Public relations help craft the client’s authentic story upon which strong relationships with stakeholders are built. Effective PR builds trust, not fake news.
Related: Earn trust in the era of fake news
Here are some resources about trust and PR, social media wars, manipulating media
and persuading where facts don’t matter.
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