How Brands Can Shape Consumer Trust In An Era Of Fake News


There’s no denying that 2016 was a disruptive year for the media. From allegations of fake news to presidential accusations on Twitter, it seems like the media was in the news almost as often as it reported it. Not only did the way the public consumes media evolve, so too did their confidence in it.

A recent study from Cision found that an overwhelming 91 percent of journalists believe that the media is “somewhat or much less trusted” than they were three years ago. Now, more than ever before, it is imperative that journalists, publishers and brand communicators provide relevant, authoritative, accurate content to the public in order to preserve and rebuild consumer trust.

What does this have to do with brands? While they are not considered media, brands are at the center of stories and content that drive the news. Even more, they are seeing new levels of public trust in an era when faith in traditional media is on the decline.

Here are a few ideas for capitalizing on that upward trend:

Leverage Your C-Suite

This year, the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer saw public trust in the media drop to a level matching that of distrust in government officials. The good news is that the data suggests this does not hold true for brands. Corporate brands are more trusted today than either the government or the media, which provides them with a unique opportunity to help shore up media credibility. Executive brand voices also hold more consumer trust than the media, which is a complete role reversal from a few years ago. Positioning your C-suite as an accurate, transparent source for information is a smart way to leverage public perception and consumer trust while giving them a platform to become credible messengers.

Earn Trust

Gaining trust has never been harder and losing trust has never been easier – which presents a unique opportunity for brands to partner with journalists to tell compelling and accurate stories that will rebuild and restore trust in quality journalism. At a time when 81 percent of senior marketers believe earned media is more effective than paid media, communications executives are starting to recognize the power of earned media to share their brand’s message and increase market share in a changing consumer climate. However, journalists and influencers say they are losing public confidence. By pairing compelling messages with pitching best practices, brands can drive better and more accurate coverage, increase earned media opportunities and help rebuild public perception of the media.

Guide The Conversation With Social Media

Across industries, media professionals and journalists are trying to make their stories and content more interactive. Photos and social media posts rank first and second as the most popular forms of media used, which is why it is critical for brands to execute a data-driven, multichannel content strategy that includes social media.

One of the first places journalists visit when a brand is in crisis is its social media channels. If brands are unresponsive on social during a crisis, damaging social media mentions may get published. Maintaining a multichannel presence is not only a good communication strategy, but it’s also a good reputation management and crisis control strategy.

The disruption of the media business impacts the journalist’s productivity and performance, making the relationships between brands, trusted newswires, journalists and influencers even more vital than ever. Brands are in a unique position to not only be strong partners to the media by helping reframe public perception, but they also have an opportunity to stand out in an era of fake news. Your internal teams are trusted storytellers. Use them. Your social channels are a credible place to amplify compelling, accurate stories. Put them to work.

Even in this strange media climate, there is enormous potential for reaching audiences, impacting opinions, and driving value. When communicators know more about who they are pitching, what reporters need and how to help them get ahead, brands can build trust and nurture relationships.