12 Aug Debunking myths and fake news through comms
We are the lucky ones who live in a world where information is readily at our fingertips at every waking moment (thank you, Dr Google).
But that might also make us the unlucky ones.
To get to the source of the right information, you might have to wade through screeds of “fake news” and myths. But that’s where good communications come in.
Conversations are constantly unfolding between people all the time, including communications professionals and those listening. Audiences are reacting to the world. Communications professionals are responding with the information curious minds crave. What do they want to hear?
But in the face of fake news, you might be asking “What do they need to hear?”
There’s a range of tools and tricks that can be deployed in the face of rumours and mistruths.
Firstly, consider not sharing the so-called falsehoods verbatim. Sometimes, it pays not to directly address them either. Shining a spotlight on the mistruth may only serve to draw more attention to it.
Instead, you might think about addressing the key themes and shutting those down.
For example, saying “Covid-19 didn’t come from a lab in China” draws attention to the myth. Saying “There’s no evidence to suggest the virus was man-made” addresses the key themes, without adding fuel directly to the fire.
As the communicator, it also pays to be aware of complacency too. It’s easy to feel like you’ve got a good grasp on a situation if you’ve talked about it many times before. But there’s always traps.
Fortunately, a lot of the time we’re privy to what I like to call “human search engines”. Most people call them experts or clients though.
Experts have the necessary knowledge and credibility to provide the facts. Quotes from those with the knowledge are worth their weight in gold, as they tend to stem from informed opinions. People also tend to believe experts.
Finally, as much as you can provide the communications to dispel rumours, not every fight is fair. The volume of voices and opinions online can be loud, and it’s exhausting yelling over the top of everyone to get a point across.
Simply put, communicators can’t control everything.
What you can control is making sure the facts are out there. Anyone who’s looking will find the truth one way or another.