The latest fake press releases announced the deaths of CA Senators Boxer and Feinstein. Good thing we have enough veteran reporters left at newspapers to begin investigating and fact checking before "running with it."
See here for earlier posts about other, more elaborate fake releases, their potential to harm and how you should be preparing for them. And see here about one other recent fake press release.
Are you ready for an attack, even if it's a hoax? Probably not.
This sounds very familiar, especially for us in CA. We know we live in earthquake country, we hear constant reminders to be prepared and to have our emergency kits ready. Yet, most of us are not truly ready for The Big One. I don't think the oversized box of granola bars and the hiking boots in the trunk of my car get me even close to "prepared" for a major quake.
Like yesterday's little shaker in Southern California, the latest fake press release is another wake-up call for preparation. So, why don't we, as PR professionals, take action for this and other potential crisis scenarios?
Try these simple tips:
- It's like dieting. Losing weight requires discipline. Life is full of multiple deadlines and tasks always right in front of our faces. But, many experts tell us, losing weight can be tough because we lack control to take steps "every day" to reduce weight. Losing weight comes in small, but consistent doses. The same principle applies to crisis planning. A little bit of it each day will eventually show results. So, spend 15 minutes every day (or, at least once a week) on crisis planning.
- Dream. Now is the time to consider possible responses and the "what ifs." Today, it is fake press releases. Tomorrow, it could be a social media attack on your client's product. In the calm, it's much easier to visualize how you would respond. The best crisis communications pros do this all the time. That is why CEOs turn to them, because THEY HAVE THE ANSWERS at their fingertips. Because they played out a scene in their heads.
- Read. Every week, search for a crisis, either current or past. Track back any press releases. Examine the outcomes, including longevity of the crisis. Analyze what went right, what could be done better. Discover the nuances or factors that you never considered. Avoid the impulse to critique or play "Monday Morning Quarterback."