How do businesses supposed to respond to media attacks?
Much has been said about HOW to respond to media attacks. Each PR person has his arsenal of "counteracting" the information crisis. But they all say very little about WHEN to get this arsenal. Today, digital manipulation tools are so available that for a small budget, almost anyone can do significant damage to your business.
Our company Underdog The UnLawyers has been operating in the business conflict market for 15 years. All this time we have been observing and analyzing the development of fake attacks and recording the main stages of their spread.
So settle down more comfortably, ahead of an exciting journey through the Ukrainian world media crisis.
Stage one. "Don't pay attention"
Usually, the story begins with the appearance of news on an unknown Internet resource. With a flashy title, without the author's signature and references. After that, the news is spread in large Facebook groups and leaders of public opinion are involved. They repost the news and write a comment to it. After that, bot farms operate, which in a matter of hours catching up with an insane number of likes and reposts.
And now attention! At this point, it is important to analyze how the news spreads. Usually, fake news is reposted by bots. Such reposts are unsigned. The comments under the post are all the same, and the number of likes and reposts is almost the same. This is artificial acceleration. But there comes a moment when the news "went to the people". In other words, it received the support of real people. Their reposts have text support, comments are not always relevant news and have an organic ratio to likes - when there are many more likes than comments and reposts.
If the fake news received a response from real people — it got into the trend. Not all fakes, even with the support of bot farms and the budget for publications, are becoming popular. But if this has already happened, this is the first bell that we need to respond to the crisis.
Stage two. "Oh, a million media wrote about us"
Fortunately, or unfortunately, our media often take news from social networks. If the topic has become widely known on Facebook, it can be covered by a large media resource. One such publication in the respected media — and in a few hours the same news will appear on other resources. Congratulations, the situation has become critical. It is extremely dangerous to be silent in this case and not to come out with your position.
But we warn you. At this stage, victims sometimes make a strategic mistake. They start writing to the media to remove the news immediately because it has no official confirmation. Threatened with lawsuits and executions. You don't have to do that. If you want to emerge victoriously — do not show aggression. Your task is to be heard as the other side of the conflict. The only correct option in this situation is to go to the media with an alternative informational reason. Stun the public by exposing, providing evidence that you have been attacked by the media. The task with an asterisk is to introduce the audience to the subject of the conflict discussion. They didn't deceive you, they deceived the audience. It was the audience that was deceived and humiliated by the customers of the fake news. And here readers are already on your side. Now you are with them on guard of good.
Of course, this works when the crisis does show signs of ordering from opponents. Do not argue with public opinion if you are wrong. The establishment's attempt to deny its mistakes is so ingrained in society and causes such anguish in the environment that a public admission of guilt may unexpectedly arouse the sympathy of yesterday's haters.
Stage three. "Look, they made a meme about you"
Not everyone reaches the last stage of the conflict. This is, so to speak, a higher level of trust of the audience when the topic became the subject of jokes. Humour is a tool that is almost impossible to fight against. If your story has turned into a meme, unfortunately, you have lost this battle. Publications in humorous publics, the appearance of sticker packs in the Telegram messenger and folk art are irreversible processes in the conflict. The subject of the conflict will be forgotten, but the memes will live for years. The meme is impossible to overcome, but it can be supported. Use your popularity and laugh at yourself with everyone.