In an era of continual accusations of “fake news,” facts can now be alternative, and with an erosion of trust in some media, it’s crucial for PR firms to know how help their clients communicate with apprehensive consumers. Though it may seem overwhelming to have to control a brand’s image in a time when content is so easily produced and spread, here are five simple things you can do to increase your clients’ credibility with their audiences:
1. Be honest. This may seem obvious, but a lot of companies post things online that are seemingly harmless that end up costing them customers. Visuals sell more than anything, so be very mindful when editing photography. Bad photoshop fails go viral all the time. It’s always disappointing to go somewhere that “looked completely different online.” When working with influencers, always have them disclose when they are being sponsored. And when you or your client do make a mistake, take responsibility and apologize quickly.
2. Show your humanity. Showing the more human side of a company is extremely effective when it comes to gaining the trust of the consumer. What is the real human impact your company has? Is your establishment engaging positively with the local community? Show it! Posting about your regular customers as well highlighting your staff will add faces to your brand rather than just products. Posting “get to know” and fun facts about the people in your company is a fun way to express your brand’s personality. People are more likely to trust other people than larger entities.
3. Go overboard with fact-checking. We don’t want any fact to be alternative. When publishing stories with statistics and numbers: Check, check, and check again. It only takes one person finding a different number on the internet to discredit an entire story. Content is quick to be created, but we should never get lazy with the journalistic aspect of publishing. Also, avoid publishing stories with big hyperboles – everywhere has the best burger in town, we’ve all heard it, focus on what really makes yours different.
4. Never engage with internet trolls. As long as there is online content, there are going to be trolls. Trolls escalate situations and can distort information, usually completely anonymously. As frustrating as this may get, never become a keyboard warrior and react to them. Reacting can appear to be giving their information credibility, much like the concept of only getting defensive when you’re guilty. If there are criticisms your client would like to reply to, it should be in a general statement and never in response to one specific comment or message. Leave the clap backs to Wendy’s Twitter account.
5. Monitor. It is our job to be aware of everything that is published about our clients. Though we always try our best, false information can be leaked through legitimate and illegitimate news sources. Putting out the fire once this occurs needs to be done quickly. Every firm should have a crisis communication plan in place. Know who to contact to get information pulled or corrected and have content ready that counteracts false claims.