As public relations and marketing professionals, we spend a lot of our time distributing information to the public on behalf of our clients—whether it’s via a press release, print collateral, website content, social media or other outlets.
But it’s important for that information to be accurate. As we’ve covered in a previous blog, accuracy is a crucial aspect of ethical behavior within the industry, and distributing false information could ruin the credibility of your firm or client.
In 2010, BP’s credibility took several blows as statements issued to the public addressing the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill were challenged and proven to be wrong.
However, the distribution of false information isn’t always an intentional action. Working with clients in a variety of industries, public relations and marketing experts are tasked with learning about those industries—whether or not we’ve had previous experience with them or knowledge about them in the past—in order to assist with communications efforts.
If you’re working on a project for a client and you don’t understand something, ask them for clarification. For example, if you’re working on a press release about a new product launch, but you don’t comprehend what the product is or what it does, reach out to the client before you start writing. If you don’t, you might be sending the client a draft of copy full of inaccuracies, and you’ll have to start from scratch once they’ve reviewed it. The client should appreciate your desire to get the information right much more than your ability to “wing it.”
Similarly, your relationship with journalists could be negatively impacted if they discover multiple inaccuracies in your content or if they publish the wrong information directly from the release you sent—even if the mistakes were not intentional.
Luckily, most organizations have an approval process in place before any type of information is distributed or published on their behalf, but there’s always a chance for incorrect information to slip through the cracks.
Avoid making careless mistakes by proofreading your content, asking the client for clarification if you need it and checking your facts—especially names, dates, statistics and even basic facts. Remember that not all sources are credible, reputable or up-to-date when you’re verifying information online.
Do you have any other tips that help promote the distribution of accurate content? What tools do you use to check your facts? Let us know in the comments!