When it comes to running a successful business, rumor can be an important tool and should be treated like a weapon. Rumor can be a form of indirect communication used to spread false rumors about an upcoming event, typically without prior warning, generally without proof. Rumor has played an important role in the history of human communication since the very beginning of recorded human history. If rumors are not checked and believed, they have the potential to quickly spread and damage a business, individual, or entire community. In order to understand how to deal with rumors you must first understand what a rumor is and how it can spread.
A simple example of a rumor would be “He is going to get more money. “, where the “rumour” is the fact that a certain individual is getting more money. This type of rumour would not hold up in court, simply because there is no concrete fact supporting this claim. It is the “rumour” that is often used as a means of manipulating the masses. The term “rumour” is often used interchangeably with “propaganda” and “taboo”.
To counteract the effects of a rumour, especially if it is impacting upon your business, creating counter-rumours is an excellent strategic communication practice. Using rumour in a strategic manner can prove very useful in situations where a Propaganda-type statement would be ineffective, such as those where you want to sway customers towards your product or service. Rumour can be a very effective and cheap form of marketing. With its ability to quickly spread and take on a life of its own, it has become an invaluable tool for many businesses.
Strategic communication studies have shown that the success of any Propaganda-style statement, such as “He loves his work, he always puts in extra hours,” dramatically falls when the rumour is coupled with the incorrect or false information (if it even exists). If, for example, your company sells knock-off Vodkas, which is considered to be an illegal drug, the “rumour” could circulate about how your company is associated with drug-selling. If you are using rumour as part of your marketing strategy, you may find that the false information about your company will quickly become a widely held misconception. This could result in a loss of potential customers.
Strategic Rumor Control The most common type of Rumour Control would be through the use of controlled testing. In this method, a number of participants view either the “control” statement, or a variation of it, either orally or through a subliminal implant. Then, depending upon the results of these tests, a “debatable” result, or fact, is then offered as an alternative to the original claim. For instance, some studies have shown that students are more likely to correctly identify that other people are lying when they are exposed to a long series of lies via the media, than they are to a single incident.
Propaganda & Rumours Another study conducted on political communication studies found that people are less likely to accept the truth when it is associated with something unpleasant. Therefore, if you want to avoid the spreading of rumours, it is important not to point out what is unpleasant, but to instead focus on the positives that will result if the rumour is allowed to spread unchecked. When you do this, it becomes easier to change the perception of the rumour rather than try to kill the rumour. Therefore, instead of spreading rumours through social media, focus on the benefits of the rumour rather than its negative aspects.