In a time when our focus is increasingly on truth versus fake, how we use and command digital communications is critical not just to our businesses but to our reputation online. The ease of sharing content and links online can frequently make it easy for businesses through their social media teams to share or spread unverified and frankly false information.
For 8 years now I’ve worked closely with businesses and professionals to help them become sharper users of digital communications and I am often taken aback when young people working on business social media teams have no idea about how to check or verify content or accounts or the consequences of sharing materials that is not checked out. Someone the other day said “but if it’s an opinion, rather than a fact, surely it’s OK to share that?” and genuinely thought that freedom of speech meant anyone could say anything online once it was their opinion.
The idea that the law follows comment, that comment can be defamatory or libellous, or can be in contempt of court or judged legally an incitement to violence was news to her. Many businesses, including state and private companies, have connected marketing graduates with their digital marketing and that’s brilliant. But the gap is in understanding the power of information and indeed the responsibility of being an information provider.
In my workshops and my support of businesses and organisations online I encourage people to see, and benefit from, the dynamic transformational power of digital to create channels of content with your audiences, users, customers or clients. But I always say
“the opportunity is you are the publisher, but equally the challenge is you are the publisher”.
Often it is easier for people to see the opportunities and to push the sales and marketing potential of digital and social media but without realising the second half of the sentence the business is at risk. Being the publisher means ensuring digital teams are strong on verification skills, that they have a basic grasp of content online legally, that they understand the framework of copyright online and that they are maximising both storytelling and editorial skills together. Telling a story, even a powerful one that drives the business agenda, without closing the circle of editorial judgement and controls is potentially exposing any business, any organisation and any professional to more risk than any other form of external communications.
Telling stories online is powerful - but making sure they are stories we can stand over, that are editorially connected to facts and values is what turns the key in digital communications.
In 2017 we’re continuing to provide critical digital thinking and skills support to businesses and if you want to talk to us about your digital plans and problems and how we can help give us a call on +3531 4372395 or email helen at athenamedia dot ie