Marketing and communications is like having braces.
Stay with me here.
I have #adultbraces. I never had braces as a kid, so this is my only experience. It’s painful, awkward and annoying. But the end result will be (better be!) straight teeth, a healthy smile and aligned bite.
But it doesn’t happen overnight. Just like your communications efforts don’t happen overnight.
It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.
Yep – I just used that cliché. Teeth don’t move in a week…it takes years. Your awareness efforts do too. So does rebuilding your reputation after a crisis. Anyone who wants results after one month does not understand communications.
It takes monitoring and maintenance.
For the last 18 months, I have gone to the orthodontist every three to four weeks for everything from consultations and teeth molds to having teeth pulled and getting wires tightened. Just like your campaign, you have to constantly monitor what you are doing.
You may have to adjust.
When I started this process, the goal was 24 months to a perfect smile. After a year, it was apparent my teeth were moving at a snail’s pace. The orthodontist had to re-evaluate and try something else. If it’s not working, don’t keep doing it. You may need to try something new.
You are never done.
After my braces are off, my orthodontist said I will have to wear a retainer every night. This ensures that my teeth stay put. It’s the same with your marketing and communications efforts. You are never done. You may have completed a certain campaign, but that doesn’t mean you stop marketing your brand and communicating to your audiences.
At our school district, it’s encouraged that 8th graders complete a study plan while enrolling in their freshman year in high school. This maps out their course of study, and ensures they will graduate with all the credits they need for a high school diploma.
In other words, as a 14-year-old, they are asked to pick a major.
I’m exaggerating. But they are supposed to plan their classes through their senior year. I get it…some classes require prerequisites and they want kids to think ahead so they don’t get stuck without enough time to take the required classes.
Isn’t high school for taking classes in several areas? I would guess most eight graders will probably change their mind about their interests in high school.
On the other hand, the curriculum guide if full of cool classes! Fire science, medical classes, education, marketing and communications, engineering, music, art…you name it, it’s there! And many have an option of earning college credit, so there’s a plus too.
But it also is a bit disheartening…it’s hard enough being a kid without all the pressure of academics, sports and life in general.
At a PRSA Kansas meeting earlier this week, three local media experts discussed their insights on fake news. It sparked lively and interesting conversation before the panel even spoke.
Fake news is nothing new – it’s propaganda. By definition, propaganda is “information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a political cause or point of view.”
The difficult part is people believe what they want to believe. Contributing to this is social and search algorithms that show users information similar to what they have viewed before, making it easy to get a biased view of any topic.
Some fake news sites and stories are expertly written so it’s easy to be tricked.
How do you know what’s real and what’s not? Here’s what our experts said:
- Gauge how the headline or article made you feel. A strong emotional reaction (fear, hatred, anxiety) is a red flag.
- Is there excessive punctuation? While excessive use of exclamation points seems commonplace in social and text messages, headlines should have minimal punctuation.
- Check the url….really check it. Look in the address bar for the full website url. Many fake news sites look similar to “real” news, or have a similar name.
- Does the website have missing contact information? Is it extremely busy or use lots of images? Does it take a long time to load? All suspicious.
- If there’s an image, do a reverse look up on the image. Copy the url of the image and click the camera looking button on Google images and paste the url in the box. Or download it to your computer, then upload the file to Google images. This will show you other sites that are using that image, or a similar one. You can make your own decision to determine if the photo is real, or has been manipulated in any way.
- Double check facts on snopes.com, factcheck.org or politifact.com.
What if your organization is the topic of #fakenews?
Get in front of the story. If the media calls you, be responsive – good advice even if you aren’t chasing fake news.
What can you do to stop the spread of #fakenews or misleading information?
Read before you share and follow the tips above. Talk to your children about the difference between real information and misinformation and how to tell the difference.
Several schools are fighting against fake news, (including one in Kansas). A professor at Wichita State University will be writing a book about fake news and teaching a class on the subject in the fall.