PROI agencies launch 24-7 client crisis hotline to mitigate the rise of misinformation & fake news

Published February 16, 2022, 9:45 AM

by MB Technews


With the increased use of social media platforms and messaging apps, the volume of misinformation and fake news through online media will be on an uptrend in the coming year. PROI network, the largest global partnership of independent agencies, calls on organizations to prioritize this emerging crisis type. To help companies tackle misinformation crises before they escalate and grow, PROI announces the roll-out of a dedicated 24-7 client crisis hotline.

Misinformation crises display a common thread – they proliferate primarily through online media, such as social media platforms and messaging apps.

  • In 20191, UK’s Metro Bank was the victim of a fake news campaign where news of its impending shutdown went viral via the hugely popular WhatsApp messaging app. Within hours, various bank branches saw panicked customers attempting to withdraw their savings or to empty their safe deposit boxes. The bank’s share price suffered a severe drop due to the negative perceptions and market panic.
  • In 2020, Facebook removed a network of fake pages and accounts allegedly operated by Vietnamese telco group Viettel Group for the purposes of discrediting their competitors.
  • Throughout 2020 – 2022, a slew of misinformation has also been released about the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccination information.
  • Agencies can feel free to customize relevant news

Misinformation such as rumors of data breaches, fake vaccine products and company crises offer ripe opportunities for malicious agents to take advantage. According to Check Point Software 2022 Cyber-security Predictions, the volume of advertisement groups for fake vaccines have multiplied within 2021. On top of that, cyber groups will continue to leverage these types of fake news campaigns to execute cybercrime through various phishing attacks and scams.

Companies who stay on top of fake news will thus not only protect themselves from misinformation adversely affecting their companies, but also protect themselves against agents exploiting misinformation for vulnerabilities.

The 24-7 crisis hotline offered by PROI agencies will provide a first response for companies seeking advice in times of misinformation and be a useful tool in mitigating such crises. The hotline is manned directly by PR practitioners from around the region, clients may seek support at +65 8885 9528 or find their local PROI representative here.

“Looking ahead, organizations should be cognizant of the threats and ensure that they have in place a crisis preparedness plan that includes fake news and misinformation. It is imperative to stay ahead of threats and be proactive in developing a crisis preparedness plan before a crisis hit. Once it hits, the plan comes to activation, and you’ll have to fix it fast,” said Karin Lohitnavy, Founder and Master Connector, Midas PR Group.

“Organizations confront issues and crisis including fake news at varying degrees. However, when poorly handled no matter the degree of severity; an issue may turn into a full-blown crisis and may worsen to jeopardize the viability of a business,” added Jojo S. Nugroho, Managing Director, Imogen PR (Indonesia).

PROI agencies have consistently proven itself on some of the world and the region’s most demanding strategic crisis communication projects. Our clients include a range of publicly listed international companies, government-owned energy companies, medium sized businesses, start-ups, government departments, and not-for-profit organizations.

“At PROI, the world’s largest partnership of PR agencies, with 75 locally owned, independent consultancies present in 50 countries and 110 cities across the globe, we can deploy and draw a multi-disciplinary set of skills, experiences and resource around the globe,” said Lena Soh-Ng, PROI Crisis Group, APAC, Co-Chair and Senior Advisor and Founding Partner of Distilleri (Singapore).

“Planning is absolutely crucial. Planning for fake news attack is comparable to preparing for a media crisis; be prepared for every possible situation, have a competent media team ready, and appoint trained and dedicated spokespeople who deliver a consistent message and response to all queries,” said Doy Roque, M2.0 Communications Inc (Philippines).

“We strongly believe the most effective crisis preparedness plan is achieved through a close and trusted working partnership, where threats are identified, considered and planned for. A clear focus on priority risks, the establishment of a process that allows ongoing transparency of emerging risks, and the continual building of the organization’s team capability, will fortify a comprehensive Crisis Preparedness Plan,” Elaine Chuah, Executive Director, Priority Communications PR Sdn Bhd (Malaysia).