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Press releases and the fight against fake news

By Laurna Woods

One of the greatest challenges facing the media this year has to be regaining trust amid a Tsunami of misinformation and fake news.

And for PR and marketing, the landscape is no different.

Our digital team is well aware of Project Owl, Google’s way of tackling misleading and downright untrue content.

And this week Facebook has taken out a number of full-page ads in major newspapers, warning readers to think twice about what appears in their newsfeed.

No coincidence that the warning comes a month before the General Election – when propaganda will no doubt be rife in the battle for the ballot box.

In marketing and communications, we must be careful to appear false or deceptive. But this is nothing new. We’ve always faced the challenge of selling a brand or concept without making it sound too good to be true.

Transparency and clarity retains consumer trust. The public accept branded content as real, so long as it states what it is and who it comes from.

Journalists surveyed in the State of the Media Report rated press releases and story leads as the most important PR resource.

Brands need to adopt integrity in their storytelling, or they jeopardise their relationship with the public and the media.

In a culture of skulduggery and fakery, here are some of the ways to make news releases stand out as a trustworthy resource.

 

A clear headline

As the gateway to your content, the headline should be engaging, but straightforward.

Think of the slogan “it does exactly what it says on the tin” – and make your headline a snappy description of what’s to come.

Don’t make promises which don’t pan out in the main copy. And if possible include the brand or company name, so it’s clear who the news is coming from.

 

identifiable sources

Any facts or figures quoted should be attributed to the source in a clear manner.

Claiming that “half of married women expect flowers on Valentine’s Day” is not enough. Where are you getting this from?

Make sure you are quoting a credible source when writing a news release. Don’t make the mistake of spreading fake news.

 

via GIPHY

 

Attributed quotes

Write clearly from your brand’s viewpoint, and attribute statements or analysis to a named person within that organisation.

Easy copy for a journalist includes a ‘human element’ so putting a face to the piece is even better. If one person is heavily quoted in the release, try to provide a photograph – a headshot at the very least, but if you have an image which fits the theme then give the journalist a choice.

 

A media contact

Give a named person and a telephone number, as well as an email address, with the news release. If a journalist wants to clarify anything, or even request an interview or more information, provide a direct contact who can answer requests quickly – bearing in mind there will be deadlines.

 

An authentic voice

Don’t exaggerate and stay on message. Stick to your brand or company’s area of expertise, and make it clear who you are and your connection to the topic you are writing about. Let the audience know why they should see you as an expert. This equals valuable thought leadership.

 

For help making your brand a trusted voice in a sea of fake news, get in touch with us on 0800 612 9890.

 

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