Trust is a rare and very valuable commodity in the world of public relations. It is what seldom makes the difference between success and failure for both PR professionals and the companies they represent. To better understand how trust capital impacts a PR career, read on for an analysis of three main ways trust defines your day to day work.
Journalists and trust
The way a journalist views a PR representatives and their clients often determines their angles on stories they pick up and write about. If you are trustworthy, they will also be more likely to pick up the topics you pitch and cover them. What trust means when it comes to a PR pro’s relationship with journalists is that a reporter or editor trusts the information you send to be accurate, believes you when you say you and your clients are available for follow up questions and any other background details they might need and also trusts you to let them know when something worthwhile is happening.
That does not mean they will just take everything you send them and copy/paste it in the next print or online edition of their publication. They are still journalists, so they will do their research and verify the details you share. But other than starting with a positive view on you as a professional and the company you represent, they won’t immediately jump to your throat in case of a PR crises. They might actually wait for your input and review your take on a certain burning matter instead of throwing dirt at you as they might do in the case of a shady PR professional. They won’t be aggressive and try to get to what you’re hiding instead of listening to you.
Audiences and trust
The trust capital you have in your audiences’ mind is a more complicated matter. First, it is a reflection of how the media sees you and those you represent. If you are portrayed by journalists as a trustworthy company that’s actually involved in the community, aware of critical issues and out to get more than just quick profits, that image will partly be translated to the people you are trying to reach. To this filtered view, their direct perception adds up. This is developed through direct contact – social media, the corporate website, consumer questions at events and trade shows your clients interact – and it is often more powerful than anything other information they get through third parties.
Let’s say they just love the product, how they interact with a company and its representatives, how you nicely addressed their concerns on their blog or Facebook page. In case of a crisis, be it a product recall, interruption of service, data breach or any other incident that might disrupt the natural course of business, they will be more likely to perceive it as a one-time mistake. We are all human and we all make mistakes. What is very important is to renew their trust and never betray it by reacting quickly and fixing the initial error, preventing the incident from happening again.
While crises are a great way to capitalize on trust, building a relationship based on this particular feeling is useful in more common, everyday situations. A customer that trusts a brand or company is more likely to be interested in new products or services they release, in programs they launch, events they organize or CSR campaigns they might be promoting.
PR professionals and trust
Another sometimes overlooked aspect is the trust a public relationship professional has in his or her own skills, his or her abilities to learn new things, adapt, think creatively and come up with something interesting to day about a client or another on a daily basis.
How you view yourself impacts how others perceive you. If you trust you can get that new client, nail that new campaign, get that journalist to reply to your email or call you back, collaborate with a that A-list blogger on a smart contest, chances are it will actually happen.
A PR professional has to be the first to trust their message, their approach, their ability to create meaningful relationships, their methods and their ethics. If they believe in themselves with good reason, nothing will be standing in their way to success. It may be a longer or shorter road to glory, but a way to great achievements nonetheless.