Character Assassination: Will the Firing Squad Get You Next?

Bryce McKinley | October 20, 2020

During the Cold War, there was a tactic used against international adversaries by labeling them Communists and “destroyers of democracy.” While there was a valid international crisis at hand, within the USA, this same propaganda was being used for domestic adversaries as well as foreign.

Political and personal enemies were quick to leverage the power of labeling someone a “Communist” to rapidly destroy their reputation.

Today, we see this same strategy being used. Activist movements can be twisted and weaponized against competitors and opponents. In fact, any highly propagated message can be used as a negative force against a person or association.

It is the preferred strategy of your enemies.

Character Assassination is the covert spreading of lies with the intention of destroying the public opinion of an individual, organization, or company. And, it’s so insidious and so effective because the sources of the lies cannot be directly fought, discredited, or traced.

Character Assassination could be as simple as gossip in a school, pitting certain students or teachers against each other. But what we’re talking about here is on a much bigger scale — carefully leaked disinformation that contains just a whiff of truth to it, picked up and spread across a nation and the world. This is the type of character assassination that destroys a person’s life and a company’s future.

The Information Vacuum

Do not allow an information vacuum to occur about you. The absence of data is the perfect opening for someone with malicious intent to stroll right in and fill it with lies. Start putting out the truth about who you are and what you do now, before it’s too late.

What can be done to recover from character assassination?

1. Hiding equals guilty” in most people’s minds, so — don’t hide! A quick response and counter-attack are the direction you want to head in. Make your voice (and the truth) heard quick.
2. Do not contribute to the power of the lies. By this I mean — don’t deny an accusation so aggressively that even more people are hearing a rumor and deciding whether they believe it or not. The famously uttered “I am not a crook,” is now Richard Nixon’s legacy. This statement largely had the inverse effect of what he’d been intending by it. Do not even acknowledge the rumors, instead just share the truth as the way to combat them. So, instead of saying “I/We are not {negative statement},” say something along the lines of “People always love a scandal, don’t they? Actually, we are doing {positive statement} and are dedicated to {positive activity} in this area, etc., etc.”
3. Avoid corrupt communication channels. There are communications channels out there known to corrupt or twist statements — avoid them. Steer clear of those who prefer to sensationalize rather than report the truth of any counter-statement you want to make.

To have growth, you will attract enemies. With enemies, come lies. Every executive or organization should work hard to fill the void preemptively — this will be your guard should the lies surface in public.

If you need help, reach out — Massive has been helping people and companies with targeted digital character assassination for close to 10 years.

Bryce McKinley
VP New Business
Bryce joined the team at Massive to streamline business development operations, improve internal program execution, and generate expansion exponentially. He oversees all aspects of operations and new business strategies.