Bad news travels fast.

Oh how true. A nasty rumour, a celebrity transgression, a misplaced word in the press that’s blown up out of all proportion, or some bawdy tittle-tattle that’s simply not true – these can all cause trouble.

And how the public laps this stuff up and then, as soon as look at it, pass it on to the next person. It’s a way of showing friends and colleagues that they are ‘in the know’ and somehow ahead of the game. Before you know it, the internet is alive with damaging news that’s going to take heaven and earth to put right again.

The rise of the social media community and a growing love of ‘trending’ both good and bad stories, means that lies, slander and distortion of the truth can all grow and prosper around us.

Big businesses face this issue all the time and even have specialist PR companies on-board to monitor the minefield of lies and try to correct it.

‘Fake news’ was how former US President Donald Trump called it, and it happened so often that in the end it was up to the reader – the public – to decide whether they were reading true accounts or a load of baloney.

Do we even know though, if we’re reading misinformation or disinformation? Mis or dis – both can be very damaging to individuals, organisations and businesses alike, and they are a big problem in the modern, electronic communications world in which we live.

Misinformation is inaccurate reporting that could easily be understood by many people to be true. Disinformation is deliberately inaccurate information sent out with the sole purpose of spreading misinformation.

If disinformation comes from what looks like a credible source, or if the piece of news has picked up a lot of interest online, it becomes more and more believable.

But this sort of fake news does not always come from a deliberate attempt to spread lies or mislead people. Sometimes it can come simply from a lack of clarity, brought about by poor grammar, badly written documents, or both.

It is so important to keep your written work and communications accurate and therefore believable. Without that, the credibility of your business, organisation and even yourself as an individual, can be compromised. Relations with colleagues, with business partners, with the media and with the public all rest on the accuracy of your written work.

It’s far better to get it right from the start than have to backtrack and defend yourself later. And besides, crisp, clear writing about you or your organisation gives the impression that your thinking, your work and your capabilities are crisp and clear too.

With that in your armoury, there’s little room for inaccuracy. Which is good news.

To learn more, and to join Business Writing Academy, click here.
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