If you say it ain't true, people won't believe you
In this issue of PR Futurist we take a look at a new toolkit for tackling false beliefs and why rebuttal and myth busting isn't the solution. We also hear from Richard Edelman on what he sees as the future of public relations.
We bemoan the fact we can't be in Washington DC to meet and hear the amazing Jen Psaki speak at the PRovokeGlobal PR Summit.
And we share with you one of our CommTech tools that we use for video editing, live videostreaming and creating AI-generated videos from articles.
Finally, a quick ask. We love hearing from people in the PR Futurist community, so don't be shy and let us know if you see a story you're particularly interested in, want advice on any of the issues we raise, or if you spot something that you think we should include.
Jen Psaki to headline the PRovokeGlobal PR Summit
In the short time she was President Biden's White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was a hit for the cool, calm, confident way she dealt with the White House press corps. She had previously served as the White House communications director during President Obama's term.
Jen will be interviewed on stage by Bully Pulpit Interactive senior counsel Robert Gibbs, another former White House press secretary, who occupied the role during the first Obama administration.
If I hadn't already committed to speaking at a client conference on 25 October I'd definitely have been in Washington DC as PRovokeGlobal is always one of the highlights of the PR calendar, and Jen is the best speaker yet - yes I'll admit I'm a huge fanboy.
Microsoft explains its approach to fake news, propaganda and censorship
In a Bloomberg interview, Microsoft President Brad Smith discussed its approach to disinformation across its informational products such as Bing, LinkedIn and MSN. Microsoft has been active in defending Ukrainian internet infrastructure and whistleblowing on Russian cyberattacks.
Microsoft will reduce the visibility of Russian state-sponsored media such as Sputnik and RT across its services, unless a user specifically intends to access that content. However, Brad Smith said that Microsoft didn't believe in an outright ban of Russian propaganda agencies such as RT, opting instead to allow users to decide for themselves.
"We have to be very thoughtful and careful because—and this is also true of every democratic government—fundamentally, people quite rightly want to make up their own mind and they should. Our whole approach needs to be to provide people with more information, not less and we cannot trip over and use what others might consider censorship as a tactic."
Misleading news release costs Boeing $200 million
Telling the truth is a core tenant of good crisis communications. Boeing has found out that not only does being misleading damage its reputation, it also has a direct financial penalty. Boeing has agreed to pay $200 million to settle charges by the US SEC that it made materially misleading statements.
The SEC found that then Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg removed a key reference in a news release to the flight control system of the crashed 737 Max. The PR team was absolutely right to include the reference, but wrong to allow a non-professional to remove it.
This is a story that every PR professional needs to keep and pull out whenever a CEO, chief legal officer or other senior manager is reluctant to tell the truth. Too often they think they know how to communicate and refuse to take professional advice.
I wonder how many CEOs would refuse to take advice from a surgeon operating to remove a tumour to try and save their life?
Research and reports
Global PR industry bouyant despite rising costs and recruitment challenges
The latest PRovoke Media research tracker into the state of the global PR agency industry shows positivity regarding growth, despite concerns about rising costs and recruiting talent.
This is the sixth tracker which is a partnership between PRovoke Media and Stickybeak.
Is it too late now to say we’re sorry?
This is a fascinating academic research paper exploring the role of perceived emotions in crisis communication strategies and predicting public anxiety. The researchers used a machine-learning approach to detect and predict anxiety scores in organisational crisis announcements on social media and the public’s responses to these posts. They also control for emotional and language tones in organisational crisis responses using a separate machine learning algorithm.
It found that perceived organisational anxiety positively influences public anxiety, confirming the occurrence of emotional contagion from the organisation to the public. Crisis response strategies moderated this relationship, so that responsibility acknowledgement lowered public anxiety the most.
It argues that by accounting for emotions expressed in organisational crisis responses, organisations may be able to better predict and manage public emotions.
New research provides performance benchmarks and insights for TikTok
New analysis of more than 600,000 TikTok videos has revealed interesting data about engagement, video views, and more. The data will help PR and communications professionals to plan and implement more effective use of TikTok for both corporate communications and to support marketing communications.
The research was conducted by Wave.video and Social Insider. Wave.video is one of the CommTech tools that we use at Purposeful Relations.
Wave.video is an all-in-one video solution for PR and comms
Wave.video is one of the many CommTech tools we use at Purposeful Relations. It's an all in one video solution that provides most of the tools that public relations and communications professionals need to create effective videos.
It's fair to say that none of the tools are 'best in class', but they are all easily good enough to get most jobs done well. Two of its most interesting tools are a text-to-video generator and livestreaming.
Other tools in Wave.video include an online video editor, video recording, video hosting and branded embeddable player, AI subtitling, thumbnail maker, GIF maker, animated text generator, royalty-free music and video stock library.
The text-to-video takes a blog post or article and uses AI to automatically create a video. It's not good enough to use 'as is', but what it creates is good enough to edit in far less time than it would take to do it from scratch.
It also provides livestreaming to LinkedIn (profiles and company pages), YouTube, Instagram, Facebook (profiles, pages and groups), Twitch and Amazon Live. It can livestream to almost anywhere else using custom RTMP.
The Wall of Beliefs toolkit on countering disinformation
The UK's Government Communication Service publishes a wealth of useful resources for communications and public relations professionals. Its latest is The Wall of Beliefs, a toolkit for understanding false beliefs and developing effective counter-disinformation strategies.
On the crisis communication and reputation risk training courses and masterclasses I run, I explain that rebuttal and myth busting is not enough to counter fake news, disinformation and misinformation. In fact, it can often reinforce the incorrect beliefs and make people believe them even more strongly.
The new GCS toolkit reinforces that rebuttal and myth busting isn't the solution.
Some of the more practical aspects are quite government and public sector focused, but the overall theories and approaches apply to many companies and organisations.
Richard Edelman on the future of public relations - he calls it communications
Edelman is the world's biggest public relations company and has just passed the $1 billion threshold in global revenue. On its 70th anniversary, Richard Edelman maps out his plan for the future of Edelman and the future of public relations.
Some of his comments make no sense. "We’ve really tried to become a communications firm, not just a PR firm." It's clumsy phrasing to try and say he's branding Edelman as a communications firm, because PR has a dubious reputation. It's his use of the word "just" that's wrong as communications is just a subset of public relations, not the other way round.
I really don't care what it's called as long as CEOs and the C-suite buy it. But it's dangerous for public relations people to think it's "just" communications. In Richard's case, he does get it, as he defines communication as "Action earns trust". Which actually means he's talking about public relations (what you do) rather than communication (whay you say).
Some of the key points he makes about the future are:
- News focused - acting like a newsroom.
- Owned media - my company's newsletter is the most credible source of information.
- Digital everywhere - no digital division.
Meltwater partners with NewsGuard
Media monitoring and social listening firm Meltwater has partnered with NewsGuard. Meltwater will use NewsGuard's reliability ratings on the news and mentions it finds for clients.
If you want to do this yourself, then you can install the NewsGuard extension in your Edge or Chrome browser. It shows you a black bar at the top of every news page to show the bias and reliability rating of the publication.
Presspage launches Media Inquiries to manage inbound requests from journalists
Presspage, the enterprise corporate communications platform, has launched a new Media Inquires space. It is designed to handle questions and requests from journalists easier and more effectively. Media Inquiries centralise all media requests in one dedicated space where they can be shared with the team.
Talkwalker partners with Khoros
Talkwalker has partnered with Khoros to provide Talkwalker customers with access to the Khoros integrated social media management suite and Khoros customers with access to Talkwalker's social listening platform.
The tech of how the UK government tracked The Queue
More than 250,000 joined The Queue to file past Queen Elizabeth II's coffin to pay their respects. It meant the end of The Queue was a long way from Westminster Abbey and kept moving as the length varied. The UK government quickly developed an innovative technology solution, created with code and APIs, to track the end of The Queue, so people knew where to join. It mashed together multiple technologies including Google Maps API, YouTube and What3words. In this article digital consultant Steph Gray explains how it was done.
How to and tips
The complete guide to using email emojis in subject lines
Did you spot a different emoji at the start of this edition of PR Futurist?
This is an interesting article from Mailerlite on how different industry sectors respond to the use of emojis in subject lines. Emojis can increase open rates and click-through rates. They can make emails stand out in an inbox that mostly contains hues of grey, white and black.
The impact of using emojis varies by sector. It increases open rates for consulting, non-profit, business and finance, technology, manufacturing, but decreases rates for media and publishing, retail, travel and transportation, property and real estate, government and politics.
Get in touch
Please don't be shy!
As always please get in touch if you want advice or help on any of the issues raised in any issue of PR Futurist. Remember that Purposeful Relations can help you with your communication technology, professional development, data and analytics and measurement and evaluation challenges.
Or if you need support with crisis communications and reputation then speak to Stuart Bruce Associates.
We also want to hear from you if you spot any news, case studies or research that you think could be good to share in PR Futurist.