Even I’m not old enough to remember the 1938 radio broadcast that took place on yesterday’s date. I am, however, very aware of what it meant. October 30, 1938 was when The War Of The Worlds aired, directed and narrated by Orson Welles. While his aim may have been entertainment, he succeeded in panicking an entire nation, and therein lies the business point.
Welles set the story up as a series of news bulletins which interrupted a seemingly normal music program (Ramon Raquello for you detail freaks). Based on a novel by H.G. Wells, the news bulletins told of a war against an alien army – Martians invading the Earth. If you’ve never listened to this masterpiece, you can hear it via this link. Unlike the Tom Cruise movie, this has nothing in the way of visual effects but is far more terrifying. It caused panic all over the country as people fled from their homes.
The business point? Almost every business is a content creator these days. While the interwebs may be a cesspool of made-up “facts”, it’s also become a primary source of news and information for a lot of folks. Your business probably isn’t in politics where the standard of truth is just a bit skewed. The self-congratulatory post you add to your blog boasting of your sterling service record might just end up as evidence in a suit brought by someone who was dissatisfied with the reality of your support. Employees might see your website as filled with lies and one of them might decide to be a whistleblower. What they allege might not be true, but it might cost you time and money to prove it.
Welles was providing entertainment (although a lot of very upset people didn’t quite see it that way). His Halloween prank would be easy to check out today (although nothing would stop a smart content creator from flooding the web with a bunch of web pages and tweets set to publish just as the prank was being pulled). A certain amount of hyperbole is accepted by consumers; outright lies aren’t. You need to find that line and stay onside.