How to earn trust in an untrusting world

Dan Tisch, APRContent may be king, but relationships are royalty, according to Dan Tisch, APR, of Argyle Public Relationships.

In a talk at IABC/Toronto’s annual general meeting, Dan noted that public relations and communications people should let others focus on churning out content. What we should be doing is making sure the content we produce can build relationships and earn trust in an untrusting world.

Why is there so little trust?

  • Corporate bad behaviour, which can drop share price by more than 50%.
  • Empowered consumers with devices in hand, ready to join social movements like #metoo.
  • Too much content, which makes it less valuable.
  • Many speaking, but few listening (very little of how we’re measured is on listening).
  • Fake news and the decline of journalism.
  • The gap in wealth and opportunity.

The treatment for low trust and #fakenews? Ethical, professional communications.

The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer – an annual trust and credibility survey of more than 33,000 people in 28 countries – says “Canadians are skeptical of information sources following the rise of fake news and disinformation. However, there is a renewed confidence in experts, notably academics, journalists and government officials. More than ever, there is a call for businesses and CEOs to lead and drive change.” (Emphasis mine.)

Dan believes this leads to six key opportunities for communicators supporting those businesses:

  1. Create content to build relationships, not just for consumption.
  2. The executive suite is more open to PR than ever, but it’s not enough to just be there; you must add value in the areas that matter most to the business.
  3. Help the organization build listening skills. Replace the usual show-tell-announce with ask-listen-exchange.
  4. Be the guides who lead collaboration. The most innovative organizations collaborate three times more than most companies.
  5. Be more data-driven. Apply insights and analysis. Dan sees lots of jobs for strategists and fewer for technicians.
  6. Marketing is becoming more like PR, but marketing is at its best when focused on the customer. PR needs to focus on all stakeholders.

If you’re working in PR or communications, these are both an opportunity and a responsibility. How are you helping your CEO lead and drive change?

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