Pause Before You Post!
chenier taylor | communications Consultant
What does it mean to tell a story responsibly in the age of social media, self-publishing and live video? As a communications professional I believe it requires us all to take a second look and pause before we post.
Throughout my career, the Communications industry has evolved in a rapid amount of time and never could I have imaged that someone would pay me to write Facebook posts - just think, the first generation of Facebook debuted while I was in college! When I was studying journalism and working at a magazine, only a select number of media outlets had the privilege of being storytellers. Fast forward through my positions in Public Affairs, Public Relations and Social Media Agencies to my role as a Communications Consultant and now everyone with an internet connection has the ability to be a storyteller.
Don’t get me wrong, I love today’s expanded media landscape, ranging from blogs to magazines to social media and podcasts to TV and even the newspaper (yes, I love to read a printed newspaper)! No longer do you have to wait for a media outlet to validate your story or to filter it through their own lens; a person can bring their unique point of view to the situation anytime, anywhere. This access has brought life and momentum to some of the pertinent causes of our day such as #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo, and allowed many more to flourish. Just think where Kickstarter would be if people didn’t share their campaigns or donations on their social feeds.
There are countless amazing things about today’s media landscape but there are also a few downsides I can’t neglect, particularly bias and untruthful storytelling. We’ve all seen stories that lean a little to one side and don’t give a full account of the facts. This is where responsible journalism should come into play and provide a system of checks and balances. However, with the ease and accessibility of multiple modes of self-publishing, even some “reputable” media outlets don’t require a verified source or editor’s review, and this dissemination of unverified facts or angles can skew the opinions of millions within minutes. While your simple endorsement of a product online can seem harmless, you may not have a clue as to what type of influence it has on your network. Think about it, did you give all of the details of your weight loss journey or just the product you received? Was that edited interview the entire story or just the parts you felt were important? Would a friend scrolling through your timeline get the full picture?
In most cases, our storytelling platforms are used responsibly and with good results. I promise you that cat video you posted made someone’s day and your product review, media interview or the unknown story you shared made a difference. Everyday I’m privileged to share stories I believe are meaningful and that have the ability to affect change. However, even I take a step back and ask myself if my language is unbiased and I seek feedback so that we represent the facts as an organization.