Most memes have a limited shelf life, but on January 22 we encountered one that just won’t seem to go away: #alternativefacts. Since its introduction, the hashtag heard round the world has proven itself to be both comical and dangerously misleading. What does this mean for the world of PR? Its implications are far reaching, but it calls to mind one of our most important InkHouse values: “We use good judgment.” When an answer is unclear, when the path isn’t paved, we use our integrity and intelligence to guide us. Never has this value been more important.
The media landscape today stands more scrutinized than ever before. As social and digital media continue to expand, the number of sources producing news has skyrocketed. And while this exposure has helped keep us more informed, it has also presented the challenges of wading through massive amounts of information. Combined with the advent of “fake news”, we have a lot to sift through.
It is imperative that we use our critical analysis to assess every piece of information that we read. Fake news, parody, and satire abound in publications across the board, and as we recently saw in China, it has become increasingly easy to mistake humor as earnest and verified reporting. The conversation has evolved so much so, that during the highly anticipated and visible Oscars broadcast, The New York Times aired a commercial for its new marketing campaign: “The truth is more important now than ever." The video brings to focus the myriad ways to interpret news today, and includes several differing perspectives. We arrive at the end with a simple, yet powerful conclusion: the truth is hard.
In the immediate wake of the 2016 presidential election, it wasn’t uncommon to see people write off opposing views or unfollow people on social media. But that’s precisely the opposite of what we should be doing. Our CEO Beth Monaghan talks about the value of reading and exposing yourself to publications you don’t often read and in having conversations with people whose opinions may differ from your own. Although difficult, it’s a necessary measure to help eradicate confirmation bias and can bring a level-headedness to any argument or stance you may have.
Understanding differing points of view is critical to PR, as our job is to counsel our clients on best practices. We cannot provide the best advice if we haven’t examined every angle of the situation. We must continually ask questions and challenge ourselves on a daily basis. And most importantly, we must never cease to use good judgment.