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paul stallard's pr blog

How do I spot if a story is fake news?

Written by Paul Stallard

 My PR agency (Berkeley Communications) worked with its sister company Arlington Research to investigate what consumers thought about fake news and its impact on media landscape. Shockingly, we found that only 26% of people now claim to trust the media.

Fake news stories are becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate from the truth. Developments in technology, a heightened appetite for news on the go, and shifts in print sales are further aggravating the problem by affecting the way people choose to consume information. The study has found that two-fifths (41%) of people now get their news from social media and 54 per cent prefer to discover news through algorithms rather than editors or journalists.

Ultimately, with 57 per cent of people reading the news every day, it is now more fundamental than ever to ensure that stories are built on proof, contain information that is worth sharing and aren’t over the top.

Whilst we cannot completely rid the news of anything that is fake or unreliable, we can work to ensure that all information disseminated to the media is robust and reliable. I find it very worrying that people are starting to lose faith in the media, and this needs to be restored. There is certainly no shortage of news content, so we need to use proven techniques – such as business storytelling – to lift trustworthy news stories above all the noise.

It would be virtually impossible to banish fake news completely, but employing successful PR campaigns to create relevant and compelling stories can help cut through all the fake dross. By working with respected news sources and ensuring they have trustworthy information and stories that people are going to be interested in and shared the public are going to be more likely to find these stories than the fake ones.

Why are stories so important? Over a third (37%) of adults say they remember stories more easily than information (rising to 45% of 18–24 year olds) and 31 per cent are more likely to buy from a brand which uses a good story in its advertising or news.

Brands should not be looking towards a future without fake news, but instead looking towards a future where reliable and engaging content is able to overcome these obstacles. In light of the shifting media landscape, taking a stand with stories that stick is the most important aspect in cutting through the fake news phenomenon.

Click here to access the full report about how fake news is changing media communications.