It is universally accepted that trust is one of the most valuable commodities in life. Trust can determine the level of success you might have in your relationships; it can determine whether someone might hire someone to do a job; it can control the level of confidence someone has in their workplace, amongst many other things.
Ultimately, many personal or professional decisions are based on trust. Trust is a key factor that applies in marketing and broadcast PR. We make buying decisions all the time that are determined by trust. Organisations will work tirelessly to build a level of trust in their products and services because they know that if a customer trusts their products, then more than likely, they will continue to engage with them.
Trust can be part of brand positioning. It is difficult to truly gauge the impact of trust; it is that intangible element that makes a consumer buy a product based only on brand. It is that comfort that makes consumers feel they are in safe hands. In broadcast PR, that trust forms over various attributes, including the strength of the story, the integrity of the brand ambassador and even the platform being used for broadcast.
Trust takes time and effort to build up, and just like in personal relationships, it can be lost almost instantly. An article on the NBC website immediately after the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook users scandal sought to highlight this stark reality. The year before the scandal, the Ponemon Institute conducted a survey showing that users’ confidence and ability to trust Facebook had a positive 79%. After the scandal, a similar survey was conducted, and the results came back at 27%. The article was written in 2018, and it can be argued that even to this day, tech reviewers are still concerned about data privacy with that particular organisation.
According to research by Adobe, 71% of customers in the UK are likely to stop purchasing from a brand where they feel their trust has been broken. Prevention is better than the cure, as winning back the trust of your audience is painfully difficult. This is especially true today, where audiences have a significant amount of cynicism about being targeted by advertising or otherwise. The truth is not that audiences do not want to be advertised to or they don’t like to learn about new products and services, but the sometimes underhanded way that they are approached inevitably means they are reluctant to engage.
For example, consider the stories of some YouTubers with sponsorship from certain companies, pushing those products onto their audiences with their audiences unaware that they were being targeted. Think of the trust and relationship being burnt between the audience and ambassador by that simple mistake. On the other hand, consider a broadcast PR scenario where it is clear that the ambassador has an affinity with a particular brand and has a compelling narrative that goes with that brand. Everything is upfront. There is no secret push or underhanded tactic. The product or brand is being spoken about in relation to the story being told.
Trust between an organisation and its audience is a powerful thing. It can take a long time and a lot of effort to build, but if it breaks, repairing it is complicated and, in some cases, can never be recovered.