Post-Truth or Multi-Truth?
One of the consequences of a more open and more liberal society is that the authenticity - or lack of it - of our information leads us back to basics. If we were all trained as professional journalists (and I mean the whole society, not only our public relations peers) we would be well versed in the rule of double-checking information with more than one trustworthy source. But since our new digital reality has given us the opportunity to become our own media - with readers or viewers, followers or fans - we must also adapt to our new responsibilities as information consumers.
The new key to success for all brands and organisations is an authentic and trustworthy public voice. This also applies to media, especially media that wants to survive this latest wave of socio-cultural development - "post-truth". As it becomes ever easier to follow journalists and other media 'names' online, their lack of anonymity and increased visibility will serve as a challenge to the post-truth tendency. In this way, trust building will become a personal act, increasingly based on individuals rather than the media as such.
I believe every one of us will have to choose whom to trust and follow, both virtually in social media and as opinion leaders in our off-line lives.
As a result, opinion leaders will become not only specific topic-focused gurus social media gurus (and respectively highly-desirable brand partners) but also powerful perception influencers. As with every power, the power to influence opinions is very tempting and not all of us will manage to resist. That leaves communication experts to be responsible for brand authenticity and trustworthiness when dealing with the post-truth world.
In order to secure a next-to-normal communication process in this multi-truth world, we need to implement the following measures:
• Continuous on-going education on how to deal with multiple information sources and how to verify
• Leverage and safe-guard public trust in our brand(s) and organisations
• Transparent and open dialogue with all stakeholders, establishing and maintaining our image as first-choice source of information for all brand-relevant topics
• Partnerships between brands/organisations and as many social media influencers as possible in order to secure the double-check possibility for all publics
Throughout history, humans have faced many different rational and philosophical approaches towards the truth. Post-truth is just the latest, bringing with it new challenges and also new possibilities. The only thing we need do now is to stay focused on the difference between them both and act accordingly.