Fake news is on the rise. If you don’t protect yourself, your brand is threatened.

While there’s much said about state-sponsored misinformation from Russia and China, fake news is more than weaponized political journalism. One of the primary drivers of fake news boils down to a single motive – money. Modern scam outfits make a killing off of direct solicitation but depend on competing sources of information about social welfare programs or government funding to make their targets more vulnerable. We often see sector-wide disruption with the more general political form of fake news, while the latter form of financial driven fake news disrupts specific organizations, companies, and government agencies.
 
Many factors increase the proliferation of fake news.
  • The polarized world of global politics has spawned disinformation campaigns like never before. The rise of the alt-right and of reactionary politics is partly driven by organized ideological misinformation, sometimes state-driven while in other cases driven by organic conspiracy groups.
  • Other destabilizing global events play a major role. COVID-19 spawned panic-buys, leading to wild hoaxes ranging from global conspiracy theories to false product claims and posts promoting local panic-buying.
  • Supporting both of these factors is the growing size and complexity of online communication. It has become easier for phony journalism sites and blogs to set up shop, and just as easy for these sites to gain a foothold through social networks including Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and others.
A lot of social networks have announced changes to their platforms to try and stem the flow of fake news. But, these efforts have been criticized as lacklustre, or even as a measure to save face and avoid legislative measures. In any case, it often falls on organizations to protect their brands from being damaged by misinformation.
 
Your best defence is a good offence, and this is true in most instances with fake news.
 
Building a strong relationship with trusted media outlets is an important way for you to get ahead of any false story before it can get out of hand. It is easy for a fake story to gain popular traction among a public audience to the point where local or even national media outlets might report on something in your wheelhouse as fact, when you are likely sitting on clear evidence that it’s not. Be sure that you are maintaining regular contact with journalists on areas considered to be your area of influence – they will readily seek your opinion or expertise when needed, and more importantly, be on speed dial in case an issue presents itself.
 
An unmistakeable brand is another primary way to combat misinformation. Provide resources to publics on legitimate avenues for info coming from your organization. By building strong, central, legitimate sources of reference for your brand, you control the conversation, not the scammers. Tools include a regularly updated news section, a brand info page with ways to identify fake emails from scammers, or regular video updates from an identifiable representative of your organization in place of faceless social media posts.
 
Another form of education you need to think about is building critical thinking – both within your organization and outside it. Make sure that every worker, every stakeholder, and every partner you work with has ample knowledge of identifying and reporting false information. You should also have a plan in place so that your organization is actively deployed when fake news is circulating – nipping misinformation right in the bud.
 
Want a personalized plan? Get in touch with me. I will put together a plan to protect your voice, and put it into motion.

Define your voice amid (and after) COVID-19.

Our lives have changed tremendously since the COVID-19 measures swept the planet. Above all else, it is important to highlight the thousands of lives lost in Canada alone due to this illness. We, as a society, have lost untold human value. Everything else pales in comparison.
 
Society must move forward. But even that is a difficult task. Local businesses are shuttered or limited in the goods and services they can provide. Countless folks are out of work and forced to make difficult financial decisions. Life has slowed down, and business as usual will not happen for some time. We know that this is the beginning of a major recession, and every business, NGO, not-for-profit, and charity will have to work extremely hard to regain their financial and cultural footing.
 
Now is the time, if you have not already, to dig deep and do what you can to help your fellow neighbour. To be socially responsible means to put the concerns of your local, regional, or global community ahead of your own. The age of #caremongering is a clarion call for organizations to do the right thing. The example you set pays tremendous dividends, because this crisis is quickly highlighting the economic and human advantages of mutual support. Businesses and sectors who seemingly lack in their efforts to be understanding and patient in a time of crisis can be quickly discarded for competitors who put in the effort. The landlord class and major financial institutions are taking a massive battering due to their lack of flexibility in supporting their clients and customers, in some cases actively working against the interests of their community. Community memories can be long-lasting.
 
The other important thing to consider is your organization’s flexibility in dealing with the issue. What technologies can you take advantage of to better reach your audiences during social distancing? How are you reinforcing new behaviours in shopping and managing consumer worries about safety when at your place of business? What e-commerce options are you using to ensure that you continue to draw sales? How proactive are you in showing that you are still running, and continuing to deliver the high standard of service you’re known for? And how are you packaging this all into a messaging strategy that will keep your audiences engaged?
 
It would be an honour to help get you on track and address your concerns about the future.

Government relations can seem like an impenetrable fortress when you don’t know where to start.

Legislatures have power over nearly every aspect of our lives. I will work with you to build the appropriate level of knowledge, trust, and spirit required to be successful in your government relations efforts.

Knowledge of the parliamentary system is powerful. Oftentimes, lobbying efforts, grassroots campaigns, and issues-based campaign get caught in the weeds using inefficient methods to target the wrong people in the wrong places. Case in point – letter-writing campaigns to a wide swath of politicians is often a waste of resources that can be best spent on more focused activities. I have experience both on and off of Parliament Hill in finding the right places to focus on and using the right processes to get your foot in the door. There are a variety of tactics available, but I am a proponent of only using the tactics that fit your strategy.

Trust goes a long way in building your credibility. Like with most elements of power, who you know matters. Network building is crucial in any situation, but the specialized network and coalition building done in government affairs requires a strong voice and a culture of collaboration. I believe in having the right validators, respecting lawmakers’ time and intelligence, and building a united front when delivering your message to wider audiences.

Spirit is the voice you carry, and the way that you carry it in your dealings. Being able to make the case for your cause and influence policy decisions takes emotion, evidence, and vision packaged in an engaging way. Emotion and vision mean nothing if you can’t back your opinions up, while having all the proof in the world about your position won’t move a political figure unless you can show that your work will have a visible impact on the political landscape. I am here to marry these elements together and build your brand as a credible, influential force that holds meaning in your actions.

By bringing me on board your project or cause, I will use everything I have learned over the years to ensure that your government relations-related communications are effective. Let’s get started.