Harvey and Hugo

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Fake news: protecting yourself and your clients

With the emergence of inaccurate, unconfirmed or just downright fake news in recent months, audiences are becoming much less trustworthy of messages and stories they receive through channels they previously saw as reliable.

The situation has even given rise to websites and social media accounts which publish ridiculous and intentionally fake news stories. Joking about an issue makes it seem less of an issue – and that’s a real issue for us!

This could potentially cause crises for businesses who rely on news providers and publications for earned coverage of their press releases and successes stories, and even content submitted through a company’s own channels can suffer from the damaged trust of its audience.

To combat this unfortunate scenario, here is our advice to help you and your business stay reliable and retain the trust of your readers.

Accuracy of information

If you went back through all the content you’ve produced, how many errors do you think you would find? It’s surprising how many inaccuracies can slip past even the most eagle-eyed of editors. It’s always possible to publish an incorrect piece of information without intent, but we no longer pitch to a public who are happy to give you the benefit of the doubt.

The solution? Fact check everything, from figures, finances and references, right down to the spelling of your own name. If you can produce content which is engaging, interesting and factually pristine, your readers will have no reason to accuse you or your company of dishonesty, and will continue to place their trust in your words.

Consistency of tone, voice and style

Here’s a question – if you covered up your logo, could you still identify your writing as your own? If you produce all of your content in a set grammatical format, with consistent use of vocabulary and a clear underlying voice, then of course you would. But if you couldn’t recognise your own content, how could your readers?

Audiences recognise and identify with tone of voice, grammar and vocabulary use just as much in writing, as they do in speech. Maintaining a consistent style throughout your content reinforces your messages and makes them seem more familiar and more friendly – and therefore, more trustworthy.

Ground yourself with multimedia content

Anyone with a phone or a keyboard can be a Twitter troll and there is nowhere more anonymous than in plain text on a screen. In many ways, we can all understand why audiences distrust what they read and interact with in digital spaces. The trouble is when a reader’s distrust of @TotallyLegitimatePoliticalGuru1984 grows into a distrust of the entire internet.

It’s important your readers know you’re not a faceless corporation and producing multimedia content is a great way to achieve this. Use pictures and videos to show your followers around your day-to-day work and let them see for themselves what expertise you have to inform your content. Live video is a real benefit here, as it broadcasts straight to your social media channel, so there is no way to doctor or amend the content, retaining real-time, absolute truthfulness.

People believe what they see more than what they read and supplementing your writing with human faces and voices communicates the people living within your content, rather than the faceless employee who writes it.

Related links: Live video in 2017.

How to make your company blog sound more human.

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