These misquotes appeared only on highly-biased, politically motivated websites. This false quote was not questioned and spread quickly in these circles.
So how does a CEO apologise for something they never said? The company, not Nooyi herself, quickly issued a statement saying that Nooyi had “misspoken” by saying that “all” PepsiCo employees were mourning the election results. They did not mention the boycotts or the false quote itself.
The public’s view of PepsiCo started recovering within the week, but the stock price continued to decline for three weeks after.
On a more local level, Australian agriculture has fallen victim to fake news. According to former Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson, emotive debates and misrepresentation of facts are resulting in fake news and derailing solid scientific research that can benefit the agriculture industry – like the availability of drought-resistant wheat varieties. He claims there’s plenty of fake news when it comes to the use of science in agriculture, whether it’s on genetically modified wheat or debates on energy. Anderson used the example of Europe’s potential ban on glyphosate, where misrepresented scientific evidence was at the core of this potential policy change, as a warning on how far these misused facts and emotionally charged debates can go.
The construction industry and industry unions in Australia also felt the blow of fake news when the Turnbull Government kept discussing the industry as one in crisis, riddled with corruption and overpaid staff in order to restore the ABCC (Australian Building and Construction Commission). A global report (Reinventing Construction: A route to higher productivity by the McKinsey Global Institute) on the construction industry showcased Australia as an example of improved productivity thanks to its high unionisation rate, well paid workers, low corruption rate and unions’ role in maintaining safe work environments.
As Anderson notes, the age of reason is being swamped by emotion and hype.
How to keep your brand safe
Here are some steps to take to protect your brand from fake news.
Listen up - Social listening is vital.. Watch how and where your brand pops up to know what people are saying about you. Google alerts and social monitoring platforms (for example, CrowdTangle) are good places to start, as is tapping into your social media platforms yourself
Know yourself and your audience - While you’re doing some active social listening, look at the data. Who affiliates with your brand? What demographics are you appealing to? Who follows your brand on social media? How do they engage with your brand? This information will help inform your company’s crisis communication plan and forge the right relationships now, not when you need to
Keep it real - Authenticity and transparency are key. Know what your company stands for and embody those values in all your dealings. Also ensure any stats that you use come from a reputable source and when you seek expert opinions, check there are no conflicts of interest or hidden agendas. If you lift anything from social media, double, triple and quadruple check that it is, in fact, the truth. Things like poor grammar, questionable source credibility and clear typos can indicate fake news websites.
Underscoring all of these tips is the need for a strong relationship with your customers. Building bonds, set on verifiable information, is pivotal to navigating threats to your brand’s reputation. If your brand has created a strong relationship with your customers, they’ll be more forgiving if a fake news crisis does happen.
If you have any questions or want to know more about how we can help, give us a call.