Navigating #fakenews

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, or

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.


TIP CUP: Is Your News Newsworthy?

Originally published on

Last month, ABC News Correspondent Elisabeth Leamy spoke to Credit Union League and Association communicators about media relations and the elements of a good news story.

Her presentation reminded me of an acronym used in public relations to determine if your idea had news value.

TIP CUP represents the words timeliness, impact, proximity, conflict, unusual and prominence. A newsworthy story will have one or more of these components:

Is it happening now? Or will it happen soon? Don’t send a journalist information about an event that happened last week.

Will this have an impact on readers or viewers? Will they be interested? How can it help them or make their lives better? What is the “wow” factor?

Proximity Is it happening in your town or nearby? Will it affect your community? If it’s a national story, how can you make it local?

Are there two sides to this story? Another angle is an individual struggle against a life event or tragic situation.

Novelty is always a plus. Are you announcing a new innovative product? Or a fresh approach to something old and traditional?

If your story involves a well-known person, the news value increases.

Two other tips that Leamy covered during her presentation are worth repeating:

  • Know what kinds of stories the journalist covers. Don’t pitch how your credit union member destroyed their debt to a reporter that covers local crime or state legislative issues.
  • Be mindful of where the journalist works. If you are contacting a TV station, make sure you have good video opportunity, or can supply it to them. If it’s a print publication, high quality photos work best. Radio interview? An interesting sound bite will carry the story.

Journalists are busy and many receive hundreds of news releases a day. Make yours stand out by ensuring your information passes the “who cares?” factor by asking yourself, why would people care about this? What value does the information have for consumers? And be sure it passes the TIP CUP test.

Integrating your credit union’s paid, earned and owned media

This first appeared on  While this information is geared toward credit unions, any organization, non-profit or business can use these ideas.

With the rise of social media, blogs and other “shareable” media, credit unions today have more opportunities than ever before to reach their members, potential members and community partners. Most credit union marketers are familiar with the concepts of paid and earned media, but owned media is relatively new.

Owned media encompasses social media posts, original content pushed out by your company and even photographs and other images.

First, it is important to understand the definitions of each. Forrester has some simple ones:

  • Paid media: a channel a brand has paid to use. An example is a print, television or online ad, or other paid placement like a billboard.
  • Earned media: a mention of your organization from a third party. Most common are news stories, blog posts (not your own) and positive, unsolicited mentions on social networking sites.
  • Owned media: a channel a brand controls. Like your blog, website or social media posts.

In today’s frantic media environment, it is more important than ever that credit unions utilize a media plan encompassing all three types of media. So how can paid, earned and owned media all work together?

A local TV station in your area has a segment dedicated to consumer financial information. You write “Five Tips to Become Financially Fit” and provide them with the content for their segment. They air the tips and mention your credit union. They also post the information on their website. Earned media.

You take those same five tips and post them on your website. You grab the url of the television station’s story, post it on your Facebook page and Twitter account, and reference that these tips are also available on your website, plus more consumer information. Owned media.

You are running paid advertising about upcoming financial literacy seminars or about one of your savings accounts. In the ad, you include one tip along with your website for more information. Paid media.

It’s as simple as using the same content for your paid, earned and owned media. It takes planning and a strategy, and tools like an editorial calendar and media research, but it’s a great way to reinforce your brand, and provide a consistent message on many platforms.