Fake news headlines fooled American adults about 75% of the time in 2016, according to a survey by BuzzFeed News. Google and Facebook were faced with acknowledging what was termed a fake news epidemic and sought to enhance controls to mitigate future occurrences.
It’s become harder to gain media coverage. Likewise, securing coverage in down months like December and January can challenge even the most committed PR pros. Some may have little to no fresh content to pitch. But if you want your brand to remain relevant, you must be active in the public conversation.
It can be challenging to pick and choose when to use humor in communications, especially for well-known brands whose audiences religiously follow social channels and dispatches. In recent years, the White House—a brand unto itself—has used humor to great effect. David Litt, special assistant to the president and a presidential speechwriter from 2011 to 2016—and now head writer and producer at Funny Or Die D.C.—reflects on the uses of humor during the Obama administration.
The rules of search engine optimization (SEO) can change so quickly, by the time you implement yesterday’s best practices, a new set of considerations seemingly take their place. And that moving target is set to move again: Since more searches now come from mobile platforms than desktops, Google will soon roll out a fully updated mobile-first index, which considers the mobile version of a website its primary version.
The toast of the social media world this week has been fast-food chain Wendy’s sassy backtalk to an annoying troll on Twitter. Most of the communicators we’ve spoken to would advise people running a brand’s Facebook or Twitter account to be meek and deferential to an agitator like this one. Why, then, has Wendy’s been showered with universal acclaim?
There’s nothing better than a business trip during the first week of January to shock staffers back into the harsh reality of the work world after well-deserved time off during the holidays. While that’s probably not why the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) begins this week—the cost of convention space is lower in early January, particularly in colder climates and travel budgets are full at the year’s start—it accomplishes the mission well.
McDonald’s has opened a location just a stone’s throw from Vatican City, eliciting complaints from Vatican authorities. NBC reported at least one cardinal’s public opposition, calling the opening “perverse” and “abberant.” Amidst a flurry of international headlines, McDonald’s has been noticeably silent, and has not issued any kind of public statement. The fast food chain hasn’t even announced the opening on social media or other official channels. McDonald’s silent posture is likely a strategic move to keep the brand out of a volatile situation.
As Shakespeare wrote in The Tempest, Act 2, Scene 1, “What’s past is prologue.” In Washington, D.C., that quote is inscribed, appropriately, on a statue outside The National Archives. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” the philosopher, novelist and poet George Santayana wrote. These quotes emphasize how important it is for communications pros to consider the PR crises of the past year and how they were handled, or mishandled, since they will guide our actions in 2017.
As the year draws to an end, there are many lessons that young PR people should have learned from 2016 news reports that can apply to our business. Here’s a second look back at the learning moments of the year that sprang from the headlines.