Communication in the Post-Truth Era
April 4, 2018 - We find ourselves in the post-truth era. What does this mean to those of us who need to gain the public's trust to achieve our missions and improve our bottom lines? And what does it mean to our marketing communications? Crisis Communications? The most clues to navigating and surviving this era come from understanding what post-truth means.
There is little debate that we are entering a new era in crisis communications. The proliferation of algorithmically-driven social media platforms allows erroneous claims and "fake news" reports to propagate with unprecedented speed. This is being made all the more worrying by the White House, which not only lends credence to questionable information to further its narrative but is, in many cases, an instigator of fake news.
The post-truth era has created sharper divisions that are deepened by social media and pose new challenges for organizations, individuals and professional communicators who need to send credible messages to audiences that are skeptical and have their own fact set.
Post-Truth era communications hold a particular challenge for companies whose marketing is based on some form of science or data. How should companies communicate in the Post-Truth era, particularly when it comes to the use of numbers? The authors look at the most famous Post-Truth number; the £350 million a week that the Vote Leave campaign continued to claim the UK sends to Brussels even after it was debunked as "misleading" by the UK Statistics Authority.
The rise of "fake news" and the proliferation of misinformation -- particularly in the social media realm -- get oxygen from all of us. Not because we come down on one side of a controversial issue or another. We stoke post-truth fires simply because it's human nature to do so. The phenomenon is called "confirmation bias," the tendency of people to seek out information and points of view they agree with, facts be damned.
The Pew Research study mentioned in the article can be accessed here:
In this distrustful post-truth environment, brands suffer, too. About 42 percent of Americans believe that brands and companies are less truthful today than they were twenty years ago, according to a study from McCann's Truth Central unit. Earning back that trust will be increasingly difficult.
There are certain similarities between politics and marketing. We're building brands and creating messages and hoping to convince the public to buy whatever it is we're offering. But here's why marketing can't follow politics into the post-truth era.
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