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How to get your message across, nowadays – building trust.

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People don’t want to hear from ‘experts’ any more.

Trust in leaders of any description – from business, charity, politicians, NHS – has dropped dramatically.

You need to give your staff a voice – all staff not just the management  – if you want your company message to be trusted and believed.

What does that mean and how do you go about building trust?

Our day-to-day experience in PR, measuring what campaigns work best, has been showing us for some time that content from junior staff or public feedback gains the best traction – the most views, shares and positive response.

It seems that only people ‘lower down the ranks’ have any authenticity – people who have nothing to gain by promoting a particular point of view, or equally have nothing to lose by telling it like it is.

Now a survey carried out by FleishmanHillard Fishburn has backed this up.

…“leaders of companies were seen alongside politicians as being amongst the least credible sources of information (7% and 2% respectively).

Conversely, employees ranked alongside family and colleagues (34%) as the most credible sources of information.”

The Authenticity Gap

Here’s what to do to get your message across

Be honest

Identify your messages. What are you trying to say? For example, it might be that ‘your company is a great place to work’ or ‘our products are made from better quality components so will last longer’ or ‘our response times will be better’.

Find the evidence which backs this up. The evidence might take the form of internal sales information, product information and supplier details, or actual happy staff and customers.

Identify natural spokespeople

Look for people who are happy and comfortable to describe their experience, and record them or gather their words.  Transcribe what they say or collate the information,

Use as much visual material as you can

Video content is ideal and it must have subtitles, but a slide show of photos is great; a strong graph, a funny picture. An interesting infograph. Visual communication is the most powerful medium you can employ.

Find the correct channels

Don’t try and reinvent the wheel, but do be creative looking for outlets, think of all your stakeholders and what media they consume at work and play, and then explore how your content would be appropriate and engaging on that channel.

Help people find it

After you’ve been creative in developing content and finding the right channel you then have to be ultra-meticulous in how you reference it. You must have the right links, tags, and meta descriptions attached to your content. Describe your photos, check your URLs and snippets.  It does take time but you need to help google help you.

Use the professionals

When you have to work so hard to get your message across, and when false news or disbelief can cost you so much in lost sales or opportunities, it’s worth investing in people to help you get it right.  They won’t speak for you but they will help your voice be heard.

For an informal chat about how we can help your authentic voice to be heard, drop me an email nicky@twelvepr.co.uk or call me on 01608 495012.

To read the original research about trust click on this report title: “The Authenticity Gap”.

Building brand trust. What is the role of PR?

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Trust in business, government, journalists and charities has all fallen dramatically in the past year.

Charities took the biggest trust hit, dropping from a “neutral” position of 50 per cent trust in 2016, to 46 per cent in the autumn, to 32 per cent at the turn of 2017. [i]

What can you do to prove that your brand or product can be trusted?

If you’re a charity for example, how can you protect your revenue streams, which allow you to keep delivering your charitable mission, if people don’t trust you with their money? Does PR even have a role in building brand trust?

The role of PR

The Trump election and Brexit votes have shown us that people are fed up with ‘corporate speak’. They are want plain, even blunt words, without any spin.

But this is not the time to ditch the PR.  This is exactly the time to use your PR team even more.

Your communications people need to get out there and connect with staff, customers and stakeholders so that they can help ensure that the voice from every level and touch point of your organisation can be heard.

For example, in October last year the National Trust was hit by accusations of corporate bullying.  The story  was covered over a few weeks in the national media, followed later by reports of a dramatic drop in donations because of the bullying allegations.

Amplifying authentic voices

One of the ways the National Trust has responded to this is to encourage communication from staff at grass roots level:

“PR has already evolved to the point where our gardeners and our teams in the field tell authentic stories about the charity. Those stories don’t always have to come from the press or PR team. Looking ahead, it’s all about widening the network of people who are going to be telling our stories.”

You can read the full article about this in PR Week but the message is clear – use PR to facilitate and amplify the voice and views of people at all levels of your organisation so that your true values and actions can be seen and trusted.

Here’s an example

Our client Cawleys is one of the largest family owned, waste management businesses in the south east.  Like all businesses in logistics, it wants to recruit good HGV drivers. Cawleys is a great place to work, with supportive teams, training, flexible hours etc. It really does deliver on family values as a great place to work.   But all companies says that don’t they?  How do we make it authentic, ensure people trust the message from Cawleys and apply to work there?

We’ve created a campaign across social media to show what a day at work as a driver at Cawleys is really like.  We’ve made sure the driver’s voice is heard as she speaks so well. Yes the person at the wheel of the skip lorry is a brilliant female driver – what better spokesperson than Kayla?

Six steps to build trust in your PR message

1. Back up every statement you make with evidence.  It’s old fashioned but more important than ever.

2. Draw evidence from as many sources as you can.  Evidence includes stories from individuals who can tell their story or describe their experience of your brand or product.

3. Identify your champions.  Keep talking to your people and ask their opinions and you will find someone who has something interesting and authentic to say.

4. Ensure you are using accessible channels or promoting your message – their message –  in the right medium.

5. Make it short and easy to understand.  For example if you are using the Yoast plugin to check your SEO performance on WordPress platforms, when it says make your text shorter, or less dense, it might be an idea to do       that. It is suggesting ways to make your words more accessible.

6. Use different methods of communication. Remember that one in ten adults struggle with literacy, and use videos.  Use captions on your videos for people who can read well, and who watch videos with the sound on mute.

[i] The measurement of trust  survey is from Edelman’s Trust Barometer which has been conducted for the past 17 years. It is based on a survey of 33,000 respondents globally including 1,150 people in the UK during the Autumn of 2016, either side of Donald Trump’s election as US President.