News Media Canada’s SPOT Fake News Online campaign received a Gold Award (the highest level) for Best Marketing Communications Campaign at The Achieving Communications Excellence (ACE) Awards hosted by the Toronto chapter of the Canadian Public Relations Society. This category recognizes outstanding strategy development and implementation of integrated communications programs. Craft Public Relations helped develop and deliver this simple, yet effective, media literacy tool and campaign that launched in September 2019.
News Media Canada and Craft PR worked together to create and launch a new media literacy tool – SPOT Fake News Online – to help Canadians of all ages critically assess online news and information. And the launch was supported with a coast-to-coast awareness campaign that brought the lessons of SPOT to life for Canadian consumers.
Existing ‘fake news’ tools were highly academic – but based on the short attention span of Canadian audiences, we knew we needed a different approach. Craft reviewed other education campaigns that have had long-term resonance and found that a clear, simple and memorable way they communicated action united them: think “Stop, Drop and Roll”, or “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”. Our solution? SPOT Fake News Online:
- S – Is this a credible source? (rely on credible, reputable sources like newspapers whenever possible!)
- P – Is the perspective biased?
- O – Are other sources reporting the same story?
- T – Is the story timely?
And, given that this would be a national, bilingual campaign, in French: VRAI ou Faux? (V – Vérifier la source, R – Regarder l’objectif de la source, A – Chercher d’autres Sources, I – Identifier si le moment est opportun).
The story of SPOT was told through a multi-pronged outreach program:
- Video. We created an engaging animated video that introduced and explained SPOT. We made newspapers the star, reinforcing the credible trusted nature of newspapers visually in the video and in our overarching campaign key messages.
- Microsite. The video was housed on a campaign microsite (www.spotfakenews.ca / www.vraioufauxenligne.ca).
- National media relations outreach. Using the federal election as a timely hook, Craft conducted national media outreach in English and French Canada to tell the story of SPOT and promote the launch of the video and microsite. Multiple spokespeople were leveraged from the newspaper industry to conduct interviews across the country.
- A newspaper ad campaign. A toolkit of ad material was developed for newspapers to use in print and online to extend the reach of the SPOT campaign, including four distinct sets of ad creative that delivered SPOT messaging.
The campaign over delivered on all objectives in terms of video views and media outreach. And the impact of the campaign continues to be felt. Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, 32 additional news stories have referenced the SPOT tool as a way to help assess information about the crisis.