Posts Tagged 'corporate storytelling'

Changing the Narrative–How to Combat Fake News

At any point, an organization can find itself in the crosshairs of rumor, falsehoods, speculation and innuendo. The business mag Fast Company and others have identified combating intentional misinformation and “fake news” as a growing concern for companies and individuals. Jeff Bezos, Joel Osteen and even trusted and popular former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama have had to combat one or a combination of all the above. While these situations usually fall short of a crisis, if left to fester, any one could grow into a full-fledged crisis. It’s often the PR pro’s job–albeit rarely acting alone–to mitigate the situation and change the narrative. So what to do? Here’s some points we’ve learned to follow:

Review the facts. By this time, any number of people have likely weighed in with an opinion on the assumptions, presumptions and possibly ill intents that have taken ahold. Don’t be afraid to counter these with facts.

Stay on the offensive. Don’t let someone else’s alternative facts become your message points or organizational narrative. Organizations needn’t feel responsibility to address widespread speculation, but they should step forward to take control of the narrative with their own clear message and perspective related to the topic.

Avoid the defensive. Your job is not to draw more attention to falsehoods, misinformation, misconceptions, or intentional disinformation. Don’t let yourself or your story be usurped into someone else’s agenda. Stay affirmative.

Truth is your best defense. Organizations can combat rumors and falsehoods with the truth. That being understood, a credible and effective response incorporates facts, insight and perspectives that may not be widely known. An appropriate response doesn’t mean mindlessly attempting to address every speculation that comes up. Your audience expects (and deserves) a structured, coherent message based on relevant facts. Don’t disappoint.

The medium is part of the message. So now that you’re ready, don’t forget delivery is at least half as important as the message. Spokesperson, best method/platform for response, are all questions to be answered. Pick your time and your best audience, but don’t wait forever. We usually recommend a tandem method–in person, with your best spokesperson on the subject–and with immediate follow up on social media. Keep in mind, the goal is to never need to address this situation again.

Advertisements

Companies and Storytelling: What Could Go Wrong?

art figures

Considering all the recent talk in PR and business circles about organizational storytelling—including our own contributions to the buzz, “Organizational Storytelling and PR”—got me to wondering: What could possibly go wrong?

What, indeed!

Then I happened upon the article, “Companies Telling Stories.” The red flag raised in “Companies Telling Stories” is that companies may use storytelling to create myths and legends, rather than show the unvarnished truth. I came to realize that my subtle thoughts were very real concerns.

As we’ve indicated, we’re proponents of organizational storytelling to help establish brands, disseminate information, and provide a clear differentiation or explanation on issues; however, our endorsement of the time-honored tradition of storytelling for PR clearly presumes that the same standards of ethics, mutuality and transparency that are the hallmark of public relations practice will apply in business storytelling. Short of that, you’ve just got companies spinning yarns to obfuscate, misinform, or worse yet, deceive.

Once upon a time

To become more than just a passing fad or the hyped trend of the moment, to be truly useful and effective, storytelling must become embedded within the culture of the organization. Moreover, the kinds of stories that build and advance a company’s narrative may not be those that can be readily farmed out; rather, they must be sustained, truly characteristic of the values and activities of the organization, and open to scrutiny and reflection. While many authors may contribute to storytelling process, it’s the guided, ethical overall public relations strategy that makes business storytelling most effective.

So, like others in the industry, while we’re enamored with the storytelling process, we recognize that its true value in PR comes from the strong ethical framework that shapes all content into something useable, truthful and relevant to an audience. As well-known digital strategist and entrepreneur Ann Handley says in a recent post: The best content isn’t storytelling. The best content is telling a true story well.

Storytellers2

We’ll be writing more about companies and storytelling, good and bad, in upcoming posts.  Also, please check out our post examining other aspects of business storytelling at:

http://storify.com/PRDoctorChicago/companies-and-storytelling


Follow prdoctorchicago on WordPress.com

prdoctorchicago

Follow me on Twitter

Advertisements