Fake News and the Role of the Newswire
“Fake news” is a topic that’s high on the agenda of major news organizations, political parties and governments; but it’s not a particularly new or modern phenomenon.
As you may know, fake news is in no way dependent on facts—yet it can still influence public opinion. In recent times, it could be argued that fake news has altered world events.
Unfortunately, fake news is very real. There are those willing to distribute disinformation for no reason other than making money, or, in a more sinister setting, swaying public opinion as this fantastic BBC article outlines (apologies, it’s a long read).
For a public relations professional to effectively combat fake news, it’s key to arm oneself with a solid PR strategy that incorporates a credible newswire.
Google and Facebook
Since the 2016 U.S. election, Google and Facebook (two of the main news sources in the English-speaking world) have been under increasing pressure to remedy the spread of fake news.
Facebook has taken direct public action by putting a “questionable content” tag on suspicious news stories, while Google has tinkered with its Hummingbird algorithm to prioritize news from trusted media sources in a bid to promote credibility.
While these changes are intended to cut down on the volume of fake news in news feeds and search results, the prevalence of social media means that fake news could still be spread across the internet.
Newswire distribution is a powerful way for brands to cut through the noise and share credible, accurate news with journalists. By following some simple rules, it is a potent way to command authority and reinforce the company message:
1. Use a Clear and Concise Headline
The headline is perhaps the most important part of a news release, as it will likely determine whether a reader will bother engaging with the rest of the content.
PR pros should resist the urge to sensationalize or use puns, making sure what is written is clear and concise.
The addition of a company name and logo also offers a journalist instant clarity.
2. Clear Attribution
Clear attribution within a press release is key to fostering confidence and gaining the trust of the media.
When providing a quote, it is important to provide attribution to a named individual. This lends far more credibility than simply using, “a generic spokesperson for Company X states [insert].”
Journalists are also more likely to name an individual in their stories. This adds a human element to the story rather than a faceless organization.
Links to other credible sources in a press release are also useful ways to corroborate the message.
3. Distribution via Credible Newswire
All press releases distributed by credible newswires include a note indicating the source of the story. This tells journalists and other readers which company or group is responsible for disseminating the information.
This is key when a press release may name several companies—it provides clarity as to where the news originates.
The media knows that all credible newswires vet every company they work with, which includes a lengthy and thorough due diligence process. Therefore, they can be assured that the news received through one of the big newswires is authentic.
Ned Simons of the Huffington Post comments that: “The main reason we have newswire feeds from the big three is to verify accuracy…we have 100 percent faith that the content is factual.”
4. Media Contact
The media contact at the end of a release should always be a real person with a working phone number and email address.
Journalists prefer not to be directed to a toll-free number in a call center or a website. A real media contact will further enhance your credibility.
Most newswires allow verified journalists to see the contact details while masking them from the public.
5. Reliable Voice
The big newswires all employ editors to vet content that will be distributed over their networks. These editors play a vital role in ensuring that all press releases are accurate, true and do not include provocative or inflammatory content.
Therefore, it’s important to not exaggerate claims or oversell features of a product. It’s much better to take a position as a thought leader that can educate an audience rather than overstating claims.
Learn more about our PR newswire service, GlobeNewswire, and how it can play a critical role in adding credibility to your communications efforts.
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