What is our role in the fight against fake news?

Last month Lansons had the privilege of joining our European international partners at the annual PROI EMEA regional meeting in Prague, where the theme of ‘building trust’ took centre stage.

Naturally, the subject of fake news was a pertinent topic amongst partners during the two-day summit, with recognition by all that this phenomenon has grown to be one of the most consistent challenges to building and maintaining trust in this modern age.

There’s no question that it’s a polarising force with persistent and dangerous symptoms, and that society must fight against it wherever possible. But a question that presented itself on numerous occasions during the conference was how much of this responsibility lies with us as communications consultants?

Certainly, a more critical approach to the way recipients of information consume and share “news” and “facts” is a must, and it feels as though the press has so far taken the brunt of accepting this responsibility.

However, it was widely acknowledged amongst our partners that we as communications professionals who are advising clients on their own brand reputation must also assume a share of responsibility as an industry in the fight against it.

This is imperative not only to protect the brands and reputations of our clients, but also for the reputation of our industry as a whole.

Luckily for us, we have a whole host of options at our disposal and this was evident throughout the PROI conference as we came together to discuss and debate the value of some of these varying approaches.

The PRCA for example outlines steps our industry should take to fight against fake news, at the heart of which sits a reinforcement of all communications best practices.

Essentially, the basics of our profession are all now more important than ever for ensuring truthful and effective communications that in turn help to combat the rise of fake news.

We should also be taking proactive steps to educate not just staff within our organisations but importantly our clients too on the dangers of fake news, and instilling high standards of information and media literacy amongst them all.

At the PROI conference sessions we were implored by one speaker to have greater vigilance, not only in monitoring for public perception of a brand and online conversations, but also in proactively seeking out recognised fake news sites where clients’ advertising may have inadvertently landed thanks to “clever” algorithms.

We also learnt how some of our partners across Europe are taking a much more pre-emptive approach to combat fake news by developing tools to actively identify fake news websites, offering up fact checking services and encouraging information literacy across a nation where distrust in institutions and government has prevailed.

Coming together with our PROI partners across the continent to discuss, debate and collaborate on ways we can continue to tackle the rise of misinformation was evidence that our industry is taking this threat seriously, assuming a share of responsibility, and that there are so many practical and proactive steps we can take in this fight all together and also as individuals.

To receive expert insights and news straight to your inbox sign up for our newsletter.