Learning to Trust Again in the Age of the Internet
By Andie Mirabal
Fake news: Incorrect stories that are generally spread via social media. A term that we’ve been introduced to in recent years and that has rapidly gained popularity with the increased use of social media. A term that has caused so much controversy for businesses and consumers alike.
More often than not, articles such as the announcement that Martin Shkreli has been turned into chicken nuggets or a video surfacing of a grilled rat make their way around Facebook and Twitter to create, what in public relations, is referred to as a crisis situation. These stories can create a disconnect between brands and their consumers.
In this day and age, there’s not much that can be hidden thanks to our trusty friend the Internet.
From the history of the U.S. to the history of a specific Twitter or Snapchat account, the Internet readily provides us with access to any information that we might want to know, whether it’s real or not.
So how does this impact our trust with companies?
Based on the Merriam-Webster definition of trust, trust is the “firm belief in the character, strength or truth of someone or something.”
Because consumers have access to a plethora of knowledge, they are now armed with the tools that help them ignore company messaging and question what is being said.
Here is a list of four things to keep in mind to amplify the trust in your company.
- Transparency is key. The best way to avoid having something surface is to be honest and address any issues as clearly and quickly as possible. Whether it is a customer service representative or a C-suite scandal, create a strong message for your audience and be prepared to ease your customers’ anxieties. Addressing the situation allows you to convey the message you want to share.
- Communication rules all. As stated in the definition above, trust is based on the firm belief in something. This can be done through both verbal and nonverbal communication tactics. Keep in mind that whether you ignore the incident or address immediately, your actions speak just as loudly as words. Communicating effectively will reinforce what your company stands for, making it easier for your customers to believe that you do, in fact, stand for what you say.
- Be sure your messaging is consistent. Nothing undermines a strong statement faster or better than another senior executive saying the opposite. Dedicate a spokesperson and have a plan in place to address the issue.
- It starts from the top down. In order to trust a company, all team members must be on the same page. Whether it’s a company of 500 or a company of 5, all employees must be working toward the same goal with the same approach. Messaging is more difficult to reinforce if there is a disconnect.
About Andie Mirabal
Andie Mirabal is the Director at The Garrity Group. She is a visual media enthusiast with a love for telling stories. To learn more about Andie, click here.
Published December 6, 2018
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