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Corporate ‘Fact-Checking’ Blogs: Trend or Fad?

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In the wake of aggressive corporate communications moves like America’s biggest company “fact-checking” New York Times op-eds, we thought we’d check in on BlackBerry, the former best friend of Alicia Keys.

Last week, the company’s SVP of marketing announced the launch of its own “fact check portal”, which is usually the kind of thing reserved for politicians whose enemies will never believe that they have, in fact, seen the birth certificate.

So how is the portal doing so far?

A more relevant question may be whether the company’s self-proclaimed status as “one of the most watched brands out there” is accurate.

  • First we have a quick single fact post claiming that the company “moves more secure data through its infrastructure than any other EMM vendor”, but that doesn’t mean much without some context
  • Then came a post on “The Great BlackBerry Migration Myth” that simply lays out the benefits of the company’s product rather than contradicting recent reports that give BlackBerry a 0.8% share of the global smartphone market (for the U.S., Gizmodo now says that number is effectively zero).
  • Yesterday brought a post about the company’s partnership with New York commuter company EZPASS, but it includes no information about usership.

We can debate the effectiveness of BlackBerry’s new effort, but the corporate “fact checking” trend will almost certainly continue to grow. As we were writing this post, we received an email from communications agency Incite linking to a blog post on this very topic.

Incite founder Ben LaBolt helped create Obama’s “Fight the Smears” site, and in the post he argues that the trend is here to stay:

 ”…in this day and age, an attack gets legs by how many impressions it makes…how do you respond to an email chain with no author?

[Companies] have determined it’s better to share their viewpoint with the same digital audience that has seen the original article, attack or misinformation than to let it linger. We’re moving far beyond an era when a footnoted press release would cover your communications to one defined first and foremost by direct engagement with the public.”

We feel like LaBolt is correct, but we have to wonder how one will determine the relative success of such projects. In BlackBerry’s case, the value of the effort is questionable.

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