Breaking news – In Australia ‘Fake news’ has been selected as Macquarie Dictionary’s Word Of The Year. The Oxford English Dictionary announced ‘post truth’ as its choice in November, and the Merriam-Webster dictionary selected ‘surreal’ – both chosen due to a significant spike in searches for the words over the past year.

In this post truth, everyone has had enough of experts, crowd size Pinocchio-ism, alternative facts, anything goes era, it would be easy to get swept up in the deceit (deliberate or otherwise) and forget that honesty matters. As your parents may have said – just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean you should.

So, we thought a timely reminder of some important issues in our sector would be appropriate.

Facebook – stay away from ‘Like and Share’
There are rules for promotions from Facebook pages. Being ignorant of them is no excuse.
Competitions are a good way of getting traffic to your Facebook page/website and increasing brand awareness, however an awful lot of business pages get competitions wrong on Facebook. And whilst minimal, the risk is that your page could be taken down by Facebook and you will lose all your likes and content and have to start again from scratch. You need to abide by UK competition law plus Facebook’s own terms. Essentially you can not ask people to like and share your page to win. You can not ask people to take part in a promotion by liking your page, sharing a post, posting something on their personal Timeline, or tagging their friends in a post. So, like and share to win is not a valid competition.

Twitter – it didn’t happen
Vigilante Twitter users regularly call out bullshit tweets, quoting tweets and adding ‘it didn’t happen’ to highlight instances where individuals or businesses are deliberately creating click bait to increase their click-thrus or followers or ego, or all of the above.

Cap code – legal, decent, honest and truthful
The UK has a well-established system of self-imposed controls for advertising. The self-regulatory system is based on an agreement between advertisers, agencies and media owners that each will act in support of the highest standards in advertising, to ensure that all ads are legal, decent, honest and truthful. The Codes reflect requirements in law, but also contains many rules that go above and beyond the law / are not required by law at all. Keep up to date via https://www.cap.org.uk/Advertising-Codes.aspx and stay away from spurious claims.

Data – don’t be a spammer
There’s a heck of a lot of information out there for anyone wanting to embark on a telemarketing or electronic marketing campaign. Who you can contact and by which method and how often and what records you need to keep are but a few things to consider. The fines for misusing data can be huge. Check out https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisations/documents/1555/direct-marketing-guidance.pdf and https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-pecr/electronic-and-telephone-marketing/

PR – tell a story, not a porky
Don’t make up quotes, don’t make up clients, and don’t use a press briefing just to shout at the press and then refuse to answer questions and then even deny it was a press briefing at all.

One of the side issues from this whole post truth phenomenon is that there has been a surge in sales of George Orwell’s 1984. It seems fiction is back in vogue after facts are in doubt. Whodathunkit?