Kathleen Stansberry examines ‘financial drain of misinformation’ in PRSA article

The assistant professor of strategic communications published an article addressing several precautions PR professionals can take to safeguard their organizations from monetary loss.

The spread of false and misleading messages online comes with a significant cost to the global economy, with a 2019 study estimating the impact at $78 billion each year. But with a few precautions, public relations professionals can protect their organizations from monetary loss due to mis/dis and mal-information.

Kathleen Stansberry

This was the topic of Assistant Professor Kathleen Stansberry’s recent article, titled “The Financial Drain of Misinformation,” published by PRSA. The article was developed for PRSA’s new Voices4Everyone initiative, an online resource that addresses a quartet of PR issues: misinformation/disinformation, DEI, civility and civic engagement.

Stansberry noted that while the economic impact of misinformation is felt hardest through stock market volatility, affected companies and organizations must also increase spending on reputation management, brand safety, employee health and wellness, and crisis communication efforts.

PRSA’s new Voices4Everyone initiative supports a national conversation building mutual understanding, trust, and civic engagement through more inclusive civil discourse.

To combat misinformation campaigns, and false and misleading information from spreading, Stansberry provided a few general actions:

  • Monitor programmic advertising to avoid inadvertently funding fake news
  • Invest in social listening
  • Improve numerical, statistical and data literacy

Stansberry, who teaches in the School of Communications’ media analytics program, is a frequent commentator on topics relating to online platforms, communities and audiences. In the past, she has addressed the QAnon conspiracy community, conspiracy theories linked to Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis, and misleading COVID-19 data.