Trust is at a Premium: The Challenge for PR

Trust is the currency of the Internet, but it’s in short supply at the moment. Let’s take a look at where PR and Communications professionals can win at garnering public trust for their clients.

It is hard to earn trust nowadays. A few recent studies have demonstrated which channels, media and individuals enjoy trust in a highly divisive era.

This study shows that public trust in ‘Traditional Media’ has declined by five per cent in the last five years. It’s been a consistent descent too, not a sudden drop brought on by a highly divisive election year. Social media has also lost three percentage points of trust.

To invoke the spirit of Roman philosopher Virgil: “Happy is the one who is able to know the causes of things.” I think we can all stab a guess at why trust in traditional media* and social media is on the way down.

At the same time, people’s faith in what they find on search engines has grown by three per cent over the last three years alone.

Trust in ‘online media’ has also enjoyed a rise. If we look at Bloglovin’s extensive survey on the power of influencers from late 2016, we see that – in the consumer space at least – online influencers can encourage more than half of digitally-savvy women to try new products and brands.

We believe what we find on search engines. This is a great endorsement for what Google, Bing and others have been doing in terms of presenting back useful information to the user – and to ‘people like us’, the influencers.

Aside from PR’s core strength – our relationships with traditional media – new challenges present opportunities if we want to help our clients to be credible across channels where they engage with their audiences. We need to:

  1. Help our clients to appear high on search engines for relevant terms (inform and persuade)
  2. Make sure that what users find when they search specifically for those clients is accurate and, where possible, positive (brand reputation)
  3. Work with influencers in our clients’ markets to help extend message reach and advocacy

In short, PR has its work cut out in gaining public trust of brands via multiple media outlets, but it can win by encouraging its clients to become ethical brands, work with influencers and micro-influencers, and work on clients’ search reputations.

If you need help building your online profile, please contact us.

*Note that this relates to all media and does not specify according to vertical. It may well be that faith in trade (industry-specific) press is higher.

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