“It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.”—Benjamin Franklin
The reputation of any brand is formed and shaped by the information available in the public domain. Information which could be directly from the company through their own channels, or through word of mouth or earned media.
The power of media has always been there to help build perception but today (digital) media is not only acting as a media but is defining the message. A quick web search on a brand and what appears online as news reports, comments, reviews, feedback, experience helps shape the brands reputation. The digital world also has empowered the consumers than ever before. Consumers can not only find news but also create news/views which has the potential to spread across geography. worldwide audience.
This power of creating and distributing information by anyone is one of the biggest challenges being faced by brands. A wrong news could occur as a result of unintentional human error, inaccuracies, misquote, lack of proof-reading, fact-checking etc. But a fake news is a deliberate attempt to malign a brand’s reputation with fabricated and twisted information to serve a agenda.
With the growth of the digital media the media consumption habit has drastically changed. With on-the-tap information available on the mobile screens, news sources are no longer the newspapers, radio or TV. In one of the studies by Pew Institute nearly 60% of the people regularly use social media for news. Unfortunately, the social media platforms are also the key to spread fake news which goes vital and at an unmanageable pace.
For brands, reputation is of the utmost importance. Organisations with positive reputations are perceived as providing more value from their brands resulting in higher sales, loyal customers and also attract better talent and business partners. For generations, misinformation and fake news continue to be used to control and manipulate public perceptions.
“If you lose money for the firm, I will be understanding. If you lose reputation, I will be ruthless.” – Warren Buffet.
Let’s look at 4 fake news which were created as an attempt to malign a brand’s reputation.
British Airways staff (fake) farewell video
A two-minute video claiming that the British Airways airline has terminated its entire workforce from June 15, 2020. This video shared as farewell message from BA staff, went viral on social media giving the impression that the airline is shutting operations.
But a fact check cleared that the video was ‘fake’ as British Airways has only proposed a job cut, but it has not been implemented yet.
A video claiming to be BBC, exposed the ‘fake cheese’ used by Domino’s Pizza in India. Made like a sting operation interview with voiceover in heavy British accent and a white-skinned reporter with anonymous whistle blower Indian chef made the video ‘look’ authentic.
BBC denies making the contentious video exposing Domino’s Pizza in India, which had recently gone viral
Coca-Cola: Honestly Scandal Fake Video
A video ‘stating’ that Coca Cola has advised its consumers to avoid using their products turned down to be fake. The below video shows both the fake and the real TV Commercial.
Apple iPhone : fake iOS 7 video
A fake video claimed that the new operating system in iOS7 waterproofs their phones.
Anup Sharma (@TweetsAnup)
The author is a StoryTeller with two decades of experience in Public Relations and Corporate Communications. He is also the Senior Director at Public Relations Consultants Association of India.