Reputation and trust in the digital age

17 Oct 2019

We live in a multi-screen world. The way we consume and retain information evolves daily alongside innovations in technology. With the increase of information streams, we cannot be naïve by expecting all sources to be 100% authentic. Every company can be a media company as long as they have a good story. The question we have to ask ourselves is: What is real and what is false?

Brand reputation and trust are key fundamental values for today’s consumer, whether Gen Z, Millennial, Gen X or Baby Boomer. We, as communicators, are in the business of building trust to maintain or heighten reputation through storytelling. To do this, we share information with influence to create impact.

Trust cannot be bought nor won. Dedication to transparency and reputable actions generate brand affinity. No matter how big a corporate or small a business you are, public trust defines how consumers perceive brand reputation, and the brands they choose to associate with. People select products and services based on purpose alignment with their morals.

Reputation, on the other hand, is defined by actions, values and relationships. It’s based on judgement in relation to how a brand portrays themselves. Positive brand reputation supports business growth and success, therefore protecting your image is as important as promoting it.

Golden rules to consider:

1. Stay on message, online and offline
Credible sources and people that share the same information give a consistent impression and intention. If we hear stories three to five times, harmoniously across all paid, earned, shared and owned (PESO) channels, we are more likely to believe you. What’s important is that you are leveraging the right platform to speak to your consumer, person to person, with a spectrum of content that can be distributed, measured and optimised.

2. Speak with purpose. Be real, relevant and relatable
Consumers are attracted to brands if their values are aligned with current beliefs. “By simply telling stories, <people> can plant ideas, thoughts and emotions into people’s brains,” said Uri Hasson of Princeton University. Communicating your values effectively automatically pulls together a unique demographic that are loyal to you, and as long as your actions and offerings align with your words, it gives you competitive advantage.

3. Speak about what you are for, not against
Positive language in all communications is underrated. While it is necessary to be transparent, you must also be thoughtful about the image you are portraying, as you never know which part of your conversation can be quoted. One should not be seen as putting down the opinions of others just because it is not your personal opinion.

4. Keep your eye on the prize
‘What does success look like to you?’ Knowing your ultimate goal helps to create a strategy that not only leads you in the right direction, creating the desired outcome and impact, but also prepares you for the things that can go wrong.

Ultimately, building reputation is all about honesty, integrity and authenticity. When your audience is confident in the corporate brand, they are more trusting of the services and products offered. The advantage of having a PR agency manage your reputation is their ability to objectively share accomplishments, showcase your track record, and protect your brand from shortfalls in the long run. After all, there’s no one better to help you share your story than an expert communicator.

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