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Disinformation – A New Era Of Crisis That Brands Need To Prepare For

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Over the past year, leaders have increasingly taken an inside-out approach to navigating the new norm. This includes everything from rapid digital transformation and operational changes to reassessing their brand’s role in society.

Overall, this approach is working. Businesses are the most trusted institution globally compared with government, NGOs, and media1. But there’s a growing threat that most businesses weren’t expecting, or ready for – disinformation.

small: we’re social

Often confused with fake news, leaders haven’t given disinformation enough attention. This is despite more than two out of three leaders at large global companies being worried about the weaponisation of false information,and given the speed at which it spreads.

So, what is disinformation? It’s the purposeful dissemination of false information intended to mislead or harm.

And, as a trusted source of information, businesses have a responsibility to ensure information is accurate and credible.

Disinformation is hidden, fast, and spreading

Of those who regularly share or forward news they find interesting, only one in four people have what we consider good “information hygiene” 1. As a result, consumers are currently more likely to believe disinformation than ever before. This is particularly true when it comes to topics they’re not familiar with, including supply chains, the efficiency of a drug, or the nuances of a brand’s corporate finances.

As it stands, every organisation is vulnerable to disinformation. Yet surprisingly it’s something that communications teams aren’t factoring into their crisis and risk planning. And, in an age where 40% of consumers will stop purchasing products or services they love if they don’t trust the parent-company that owns the brand2, it’s more important than ever.

When a company doesn’t debunk false information before it runs rampant, it has the potential to negatively impact its share price, destroy its reputation or loyal customer base, and in some instances, threaten the safety of employees.

Navigating disinformation

To navigate this new era of crisis and mitigate risk, companies need to rethink their traditional communications approach. This means going beyond traditional media monitoring used to identify existing conversations and trends across online news and social media channels, and instead incorporate tools and technologies to monitor for disinformation – including on the dark web – and work to combat disinformation with transparency and fact-based communications campaigns.

This is what Edelman’s Disinformation Shield has been designed to do: provide companies with the opportunity to pre-emptively disprove false information that is circulating. It combines the most diverse data and cognitive science tools available to intercept and disrupt disinformation in real-time.

It does this by using new tools to unmask threats and analyse potential ways false information will spread; and incorporating data-driven solutions to identify and reach vulnerable audiences before being exposed to disinformation.

Having these insights allows companies to combat disinformation with targeted communications campaigns tailored to these at-risk audiences, and with controlled messaging that prevents trust from being permanently eroded.

Find more information on Edelman’s Disinformation Shield here.

1 Edelman Trust Barometer 2021

2 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report 2021

The writer is Gabor Koska, executive vice-president – head of APAC region, DxI.

Credit:  Marketing-Interactive

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