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5 Ways to Gain Trust

Published on May 16, 2017, at 8:09 a.m.
by Baylee Akins, Contributing Writer.

We are living in historic times of change, but intense change presents immense opportunities. With trust in the media at an all-time low, the media paradigm is shifting and students entering the workforce have the ability to shape their careers with innovative techniques. Amanda Sapp, vice president of planning for Edelman, inspired students from the Southwest region during the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) 2017 Regional Conference hosted by San Diego State University with five key strategies to be successful in this time of change.

1. Don’t get comfortable in the old models. Edelman’s 2017 Trust Barometer revealed that trust is in crisis around the world. Arguably one of the worst things a company can do is rely on outdated modes of engagement. The Trust Barometer advises that to rebuild trust and restore faith in the system, “institutions must step outside of their traditional roles and work toward a new, more integrated model that puts people’s needs, including their fears, at the center of everything they do.” Stepping out of your comfort zone as a PR professional and being aware of your target audience’s mindset will allow you to better adapt to the ever-changing industry.

2. Tell your own stories in transparent and authentic ways. If your audience doesn’t believe you’re being genuine, your statements mean nothing. Authentic storytelling is crucial to building relationships with audiences, even at ground levels. The Edelman Trust Barometer shows that peers are one of the most trusted sources of information. Empower your peers to contribute to their company’s messaging through grassroots efforts.

3. Know your purpose. In times of uncertainty, knowing your organization’s purpose is crucial to success. At the most basic level, what are your company’s goals and objectives? What are your goals as your company’s PR professional? Being confident and consistent in answers to these questions will guide you not only in times of change, but also throughout your growth as a PR practitioner.

4. Talk with, not at. Thanks to the digital age and social media, PR is no longer a one-way street with brands communicating to consumers. Today there’s more of a dialogue between the two. Consumers want to know they’re being heard. Encourage organic discussion at all levels of your company. In addition, businesses have the opportunity to bypass the press in some cases and be their own media outlets. As a young practitioner entering the workforce, make it a priority to effectively engage with your audiences from the start, and you will see greater success throughout your PR career.

5. Passion pays off. “What makes you feel alive?” Sapp asks. If you don’t believe in what you’re doing, your audience isn’t going to either. This is crucial to not only establishing credibility, but also for building quality relationships with your audiences.

Sapp encourages future practitioners to adopt these key concepts as they enter the workforce. She emphasizes the importance of transparency and integrity, quoting Aristotle, “Be competent, be sincere and be consistent.”

Now more than ever, it’s imperative to accept the shifting media paradigm and adapt to it, all the while focusing on the foundation of all relationships — trust.

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