Communication in the Digital Post-Truth Era
April 5, 2017 - The Oxford Dictionaries recently named "post-truth" as their international word of the year. What does this mean for communication, crisis communication and reputation in this post-truth era? How has crisis communication changed and, interestingly, how has it not? While there are challenges, most experts agree that the basic principles of communicating in a crisis are still important. Read on and see what you think... have you changed the way you're handling crisis communication today?
These days, it seems like no one is safe from a crisis arriving suddenly and unexpectedly. Some have subscribed this phenomenon to hypersensitivity on the political left and right, goaded on by professional activists who subscribe bad intentions to...well, everything. In fairness, there's something to this idea that culture warriors jumping to conclusions are driving the "post-truth" era. But if the problem were simply accuracy and precision in reporting, professional communicators have ways of addressing that, whether through digital tools, validators, or the mainstream press.
Brands can't prevent people from creating and sharing fake news, but they can ensure that the brand has built up a solid foundation of goodwill and trust prior to an incident taking place by focusing on transparency, clear communication, and calm tone of voice.
These days, people whose job it is to communicate during a crisis could be forgiven for thinking, "I hope that never happens to me." Unfortunately, as one of my clients is fond of saying, hope is not a strategy. And even if it once was, it's no longer the case in the digitally-fueled era of social media.
As any casual reader of the news would know, 2017 is fast becoming the year of 'fake news'. But what does this mean for businesses who still want to use news media as a way to communicate with their potential customers. Does the eroding confidence in the media mean that it is no longer an effective tool for communication?
We in corporate communications and reputation management must be ready. At all times. For anything. It is imperative to be truthful. There is no way to "spin" journalists or anyone else, such as family members, community leaders and elected officials, when faced with tragedies. The manner in which one handles a crisis today has changed dramatically in 32 years. The foundational principles of communications and organizational excellence - honesty, integrity, accountability - remain the same.
Over the last six months we've examined what has changed in the communications industry as a result of the recession, continued boom of new ways to communicate and shift in political leadership. We've heard from industry leaders on the impact the recession has taken on hiring and current perceptions of the corporate public affairs performance of Fortune 500 companies. For the third and final installment of the series, we asked communications professionals their thoughts on navigating crisis communications in today's environment.
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