Political Rumor Management Is All About Strategic Communication
A rumor, is simply “a story about something not true that is circulated from person to person and usually pertaining to some object, situation, or subject in a general public concern.” There are many different types of rumors. Most commonly, they pertain to small topics, like the weather or a sports game. But some stories are blown out of proportion and have a significant effect on society at large. Let’s take a look at five of the most popular urban legends.
The first one we’ll talk about is probably the most obvious one: the rumour or story about a certain “X” that killed a famous celebrity. It may not be true, but it certainly has the feel of truthiness to it. A prime example of this is the “roid bomb” story that was in the press for years. Rumours have their purpose, which is to warn people of something that is potentially dangerous. Often, it’s these rumours which lead to action. For example, if you were advised to put some chlorine tablets on your nose when driving to work in Los Angeles, you’d do it – but this wouldn’t mean that chlorine tablets caused the death of Marilyn Monroe.
Another example of the spreading rumors is when a celebrity dies, and a rumour tries to explain why this happened. One of the reasons gossip gets around is that it helps to solve the mystery of who would do something like this. There is a famous case in point: in 1990, there was an investigation into whether Michael Jackson had been poisoned. This was part of the publicity that he received after his death; and it spread rumors that blamed him for his own demise.
Rumors can also be used as a kind of social cognition – which means “the perception of reality”. This is the ability to understand a situation in terms of other people’s thoughts and feelings about it. The extent to which managers can manage rumours depends on their understanding of how Rumour management works. If they understand that rumour has the same effect on the human brain as knowledge, then they are well on their way to being able to use humor to their benefit – by spreading positive social cognition about a particular rumour.
For this to work though, managers must understand the nature of the spread of the rumour and how to stop it. They need to be able to think strategically about when to circulate the gossip and how. This is one thing that seems to be a problem.
Rumors in politics are tricky because they require strategic thinking on the part of those who are spreading them. There needs to be an element of surprise in the spreading of these rumors in order to work. This is why many managers choose to outsource their rumour management to companies that specialise in strategic communication. These are firms that have the expertise in managing and transmitting political news. A simple email or text message can quickly spread through a whole load of information across the internet in a matter of hours.