Reactive Public Relations Strategies for Managing Fake News in the Online Environment

Postmodern Openings 9 (2):26-44 (2018)
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The aim of this conceptual paper is to discuss the issue of managing fake news in the online environment, from an organizational perspective, by using reactive PR strategies. First, we critically discuss the most important definitions of the umbrella term fake news, in the so-called post-truth era, in order to emphasize different challenges in conceptualizing this elusive social phenomenon. Second, employing some valuable contribution from literature, we present and illustrate with vivid examples 10 categories of fake news. Each type of fake news is discussed in the context of organizational communication. Based on existent literature, we propose a 3D conceptual model of fake news, in an organizational context. Furthermore, we consider that PR managers can use either reactive PR strategies to counteract online fake news regarding an organization, or communication stratagems to temporarily transform the organization served into a potential source of fake news. The existing typology of reactive public relations strategies from the literature allow us to discuss the challenge of using them in counteracting online fake news. Each reactive PR strategy can be a potential solution to respond to different types of online fake news. Although these possibilities seem to be extensive, in some cases, PR managers can find them ineffective. In our view, this cluster of reactive PR strategies is not a panacea for managing fake news in the online environment and different strategic approaches may be need, such as communication stratagems. In this context, communication stratagems consist in using organization as a source or as a vector for strategic creation and dissemination of online fake news, for the benefit of the organization. We conclude that within online environment PR managers can employ a variety of reactive PR strategies to counteract fake news, or different communication stratagems to achieve organizational goals.
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Archival date: 2018-07-09
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