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How to Grow Personally & Professionally in 3 Simple Steps

 

February is an interesting month. It’s squeezed between the excitement of a new year and the anticipation of spring. It’s also the month my daughter turns 18.

While she is now old enough to vote, I worry she may not be ready to govern her life at college next fall. These thoughts keep me up at night, but I’m learning to embrace change because, ‘what’s the alternative?’

The same is true in business. When I birthed Candor in 2012, I never imagined my “baby” would become a fully-integrated agency. Heck, I won my first client sitting in my gym shorts and flip flops while chatting on a flip phone in my guest bedroom.

Needless to say, we’ve come a long way. Today, Candor is one of the fastest growing firms in Oklahoma. We’re housed on historic Film Row near downtown OKC — which is, perhaps ironically, one of the fastest growing districts in the city. We even have a cool building! Before being converted into an office space, Candor was the home of an old Pabst Blue Ribbon ice house.

Recently, we took a big leap of faith and added a 2,000-square-foot video production studio. The space includes a Facebook Live set in addition to a full edit suite. Video has become increasingly popular as a social media tool — and it’s not going anywhere. Here are a few things we know:

In addition to our building expansion, Candor recently had triplets. We added three new professionals to help with content creation, social media and video production. Adding new team members is always exciting, but it can create challenges with office space, onboarding and company culture.

So, what have I learned through the growing process?

  1. Control is an illusion.
    Being an entrepreneur is a lot like being a first-time mom. You want to control everything, including your well-meaning friends and family who tell you to relax and let go. But here’s a not-so-surprising secret: Business can’t grow until leaders relinquish some of their power. I’m pleased to say I’m no longer afraid to ask my colleagues to change a dirty diaper or two.
  2. Surround yourself with good people.
    Relinquishing power becomes a LOT easier if you start with this rule. At Candor, we hire folks with a can-do spirit. That may sound hokey, but it works. We simply don’t have room for entitlement. Good things happen when everyone works toward the betterment of others. Remember: You can’t spell Candor without ‘can do’! Okay, that definitely sounds hokey.
  3. Get out of your own way.
    Are you sensing a pattern? Sometimes you just have to let your family or coworkers do the heavy lifting. Whether dealing with a client deadline or a college application, real growth can’t happen if one person is always in charge.

Will someone please remind of me of this rule when my kid pulls out of the driveway for her first solo trek to college?

Keeping It Real on Social Media

Did you see the story recently about coffee shops shutting down Wi-Fi to force people to interact? What about the memes of people glued to their mobiles in front of great works of art? Have you heard high-school dances are going extinct because teens would rather just Snapchat each other?

Everyone bemoans what mobile technology has done to personal interactions. But who would really give up their devices? Our pocket computers provide many advantages – including deepening our connections with loved ones – and someone without a digital connection would miss out on too much of the modern world.

The desire for connection creates challenges and opportunities for brands. When brands try to reach an audience, they must compete with millions of other companies, celebrities, friends and loved ones, cute animals, mainstream news sources and verbose politicians.

To break through, successful organizations need to find ways to make emotional connections with the audience, rather than just providing information.

One great way to make sure content – especially on social media – feels authentic is to imagine speaking to a real person. When I worked in internal communications, a conference speaker reminded people not to write for a generic group such as “fellow employees.” She suggested picturing someone specific, like Carol in accounting, or John from IT. Writing as if I were sending an email to a coworker helped me keep things simple and clear.

Brands must also remember what the audience wants. People who have already taken the time to like a Twitter account or follow on Facebook have demonstrated an interest in a product or service. They want information about upcoming events and new offerings. But to build trust and loyalty, users must sense a real person on the other side of the screen with real emotions – and perhaps a sense of humor. Nobody wants to read dry, corporate copy; so don’t write it.

Listening truly sets people apart on social media. Traditional media relied on “we say, they listen” communication; the technology required it. Too many organizations act as if things still work that way. They Tweet or post on Facebook without a plan for the next step. Anything interesting online draws shares, likes, comments and reviews. We recommend group organizations designate a person, process and culture for responding quickly and consistently. It’s the key to being seen as more than self-promotional.

Candor doesn’t believe any of this is easy. Making every follower feel as if they’re the center of attention may be the greatest communication challenge we have. But when organizations set authentic connections as the goal, they take a huge leap toward generating a loyal, passionate audience.

3 Ways to Ditch the Press Conference

Candor recently helped a client open a new location. They wanted to generate buzz and excitement.

In the past, we would have suggested blowing up some balloons, ordering a backdrop and a podium. Then, we would hope the press showed up for our news conference (maybe we’d even let them know there would be cookies).

Now, we have much better ways to share big developments.

1) Own the Content – We didn’t wait for reporters to spread the news. Instead, we turned carefully crafted talking points and Q&A materials into blogs, news releases, etc. and posted them to the company’s website.

Along with those tactics, brands can share content on social media channels. Send a digital newsletter.

Basically, we took control of spreading the message, rather than waiting to see if TV stations and newspapers would do the job.

Brand bonus: Allocate a budget for social media advertising to amplify the message to your target audience.

2) Go Live – We also grabbed a mobile phone and broadcast the grand opening live. Hundreds of people watched in real-time, and the video ultimately reached thousands of people. We also interviewed the client on-site and posted the mobile video later in the day.

Facebook and Instagram have launched incredibly successful live video functions. These broadcasts are unedited, authentic and in the moment – which is exactly how most people prefer their content. This tactic also accommodates understaffed newsrooms. Reporters under tight deadlines may be more likely to watch the announcement on their computer rather than traveling to the event.

Brand bonus: Have a staff member play reporter. He or she can pose questions to leadership, give a tour of a new facility or demonstrate the newest product.

3) Tweet About It – In addition to the client’s other channels, we posted to Twitter throughout the day regarding the announcement and grand opening activities. Many reporters use Twitter as a resource to gather information and story ideas, and we generated additional coverage with a few posts and photos.

We issued a press statement in 140-character chunks. Today’s news consumer has a shorter attention span, and many get their news while scrolling through feeds in their spare moments. This change is scary, but it represents the future of our society and presents new opportunities for engaged brands to take control of the narrative.

Brand bonus: Include short videos or creative infographics online to increase interest and social media engagement.

Ultimately, we were successful with our client’s celebration because we didn’t focus on doing things the way they used to be done.

There are many innovative tactics companies can use to share information and announcements with the public instead of relying on traditional media. With new ways to create content, brands must take advantage of digital media channels and rethink their old communication plans to reach audiences and goals.

Sometimes You Have to Crack an Egg

I can’t imagine a business owner giving up $500 a month over a 33-cent item.

At least, I couldn’t until I heard Todd Duncan’s story on The EntreLeadership Podcast about a restaurant refusing to put a fried egg on his hamburger.

The manager couldn’t make the change because the eggs were intended for another special. Because of the confusion, she offered to pay his $70 bill – and lose his repeat business – rather than crack an egg.

As Duncan noted, it was an example of an employee thinking the rules outweigh the outcome. He argues today’s customers want something better. They want an emotional connection, which leads to higher loyalty and stronger sales.

Duncan found a great example down the street at Whole Foods. Employees immediately said they could find a way AND asked exactly how he wanted the egg. Duncan credits Whole Foods’ founder John Mackey for putting his employees in what they call “the yes world.”

The story made me think about my industry. People used to have a pretty narrow view of public relations: We cranked out news releases and internal memos, called editors and reporters, and got the right people to parties.

Our world encompasses much more now. We seek to understand every aspect of our clients’ businesses so we can collaborate on good strategic decisions. And, of course, we still advise on the right ways and places to share those messages.

PR had to change. We had to learn to say yes to the things our clients needed, whether it meant becoming video producers, data analysts or social media wizards.

In everything we do, it’s about achieving our clients’ goals, and finding ways they can please their customers, donors and other stakeholders.

Today, PR is about helping our clients figure out when to follow the rules, and when to flip their thinking to the bigger picture.

It can be complicated and scary, but I know what Candor says when we get a new request: Let’s get cracking!

Taking it Old School to Learn New Lessons

Hip-hop music may seem like the new kid on the block. But rap has topped charts since at least 1990. (I promise to make that the only oblique reference to Vanilla Ice in this post.)

Beats and rhymes have been influencing culture for more than 30 years. Many of today’s executives and decision makers grew up on Run-DMC and other pioneering MCs and DJs. And the genre holds lessons for nearly any business or organization, regardless of the audience.

At Candor, we’ve found five outstanding lyrics to remind us of the principles of our profession.

  1. “Ain’t no future in yo frontin’” – MC Breed & DFC, from “Ain’t no future in yo frontin’”

Don’t lie. That’s it. It is the foundation for everything we do at Candor, and we hope it guides every client we represent.

Of course, everyone preaches honesty as the best policy, based on idealism and simply doing the right thing. But staying true to reality holds special importance when dealing with the media or the public. Whatever a falsehood hides, it will look much worse when it gets splashed across the internet.

A good public relations counselor will help emphasize the positive, but everyone on the team must commit to avoiding false statements.

  1. “La di da di, we like to party” – Slick Rick, from “La Di Da Di”

A common caricature assumes PR pros spend all of their time planning and hosting parties. It’s an exaggerated image, of course.

Putting on excellent events for our clients is part of the job, and we are happy to help (and share in the good vibrations). We always remember, though, a party is more than just a good time.

Besides theme, invitations, timing sheets and talking points, we remind clients to think beyond the details and remember the message. We help them consider what guests should learn at a party, press event or open house; how they should feel when they leave; and what ideas should stick in their mind when they leave the venue.

  1. “You can plan a pretty picture, but you can’t predict the weather.” – Outkast, from “Ms. Jackson”

Candor boasts of its ability to plan ahead. We look days, weeks and months into the future to help our clients find opportunities and avoid hazards.

As Oklahomans know, no forecast is certain. Conditions change rapidly, and we always prepare for contingencies. Even when we spend long hours developing a detailed, months-long campaign, we know it could get torn up and tossed out the window. It happens when a new bill is filed at the Capitol, when news breaks somewhere else in the country or when someone simply comes up with a better idea.

It doesn’t bother us. We expect to adapt.

  1. “I’m not a business man. I’m a business, man.” Jay Z, from “Diamonds From Sierra Leone”

Brooklyn-based rapper, producer, sports agent, media mogul and NBA team owner Shawn Carter had a hard-knock life. But he understands something fundamental about branding: it always matters, and everything a team does affects the image.

When a CEO speaks in front of hundreds of people, it changes how people see her company. When a volunteer greets a guest at a groundbreaking, it can make people more likely to donate to his nonprofit. When a spokesman is running errands on his off hours, his demeanor could affect coverage of a hot-button political issue.

Nobody needs to be image-obsessed, but everyone in every organization needs to feel part of the team, so they feel responsible for projecting professionalism and trustworthiness.

  1. “I gotta say, it was a good day.” Ice Cube, from “It Was a Good Day”

No matter the field, no matter the role, work is challenging. At Candor, we make time to celebrate our victories. We keep our clients updated about their media hits, newsletter opens and social media mentions. And when something special happens, we celebrate with snacks and sirens in the office. We stay positive through the day by bouncing ideas off each other, giving constructive feedback and talking about our common goals.

It’s just the way we roll with our homies.

How Candor Won a PR Daily Award

Christmas came early for Candor. In early December, PR Daily named our makeOKbetter campaign the best interactive storytelling campaign in the nation for 2016. I know what you’re thinking: “But what does ‘interactive storytelling’ even mean?” Honestly, it’s the new way to look at PR. With the rise of digital media, our services and capabilities as PR professionals keep growing. The makeOKbetter campaign wasn’t confined to just one medium. Instead, we dabbled in: social media advertising; email marketing; web design & management; infographics; high-quality, scripted video; and even live video shot directly from our phones. We coupled all of this with some tried-and-true PR methods, such as media pitching, press conferences and strategic op-ed pieces.

Here’s some background on our campaign, why it was necessary and what it took to win a PR Daily Content Marketing Award.

The History

During the 2016 legislative session, the Oklahoma Hospital Association faced a proposed 25 percent cut to Medicaid provider rates, which would have devastated hospitals across the state.

It was a complicated issue in the middle of a statewide budget crisis, but the OHA called Candor to create a strategy that would save hospitals and save lives.

Together, we launched the makeOKbetter campaign to ensure Oklahomans were aware of what was at stake, especially for 42 rural hospitals at risk of closing. We hoped to get rid of the 25 percent cut by urging hard-working Oklahomans to ask the Legislature to “take back” federal dollars to adequately fund health care.

We needed to pack a punch to make a difference, so we outlined three phases to highlight the campaign and tell our story across Oklahoma.

Phase One – “Educate & Inform”

These budget cuts were going to impact jobs, communities and families, so we needed the title to focus on a solution. We created the logo in-house using recognizable healthcare colors. On February 24, 2016, we publicly launched the campaign with an interactive landing page urging advocates to “join the movement.” We collected e-mail opt-ins and explained the issues and key messages. We stressed the idea of “a better future” for Oklahomans. The site received media coverage around the state and let stakeholders and elected officials know there would be an organized effort to make health care funding a top priority.

The landing page housed our first video, an animation explaining the proposed budget cut and its potential impact. We made it easy for hospitals to share the video, and also gave them posters, payroll stuffers, FAQs and social media posts they could share.

After optimizing the makeOKbetter social channels, we turned the animation video into paid ads and targeted an interested audience. We used Facebook and Twitter to display hard-hitting infographics explaining the budget crisis. The infographics cut to the core of our messaging:

• “Don’t let this happen to Oklahoma Hospitals”
• “Join the movement and take back our federal funds.”

By educating and informing our audience, we were ready to kick off ‘Phase Two.’

Phase Two – “Emotional Appeal”

On March 21, it was time to put numbers behind battle cries. We used video to tell the story of
the rural community of Sayre and what it meant to lose its hospital. It was fresh on the mind of its community members, so our video crew took to the streets, cafes and salons to hear how they had been affected.

That was just one town. One hospital. One community. Our audience was starting to understand the dire situation.

By the end of our campaign, the Sayre video totaled 237,105 views, reached 352,535 people and received 9,272 reactions, comments and shares.

We followed the video with opinion editorials, posting earned media hits to our social media channels and sharing media clips with key influencers. And then we were hit with a few wrinkles.

Phase Three – “Call to Action”

As the month went on, it became clear the Legislature was not going to take back federal health care funds, forcing advocates to devise a new strategy. Under the direction of the Oklahoma Hospital Association, makeOKbetter endorsed the Medicaid Rebalancing Act and a proposed cigarette tax.

Through new data and a compelling infographic, we grabbed media’s attention. We stressed the need for action, stating the proposed Medicaid cuts would mean as many as four out of every five Oklahoma hospitals would not deliver babies, nine out of 10 nursing homes would be forced to shut down and more than a dozen hospitals would close within the year. Polling found 74% of Oklahomans supported a cigarette tax increase to fix health care.

We launched a new video, stating “Oklahoma is on life support” and “health care is in crisis” to create a sense of urgency and desperation. We unveiled the video at a press conference alongside the Oklahoma Association of Health Care Providers. Multiple media outlets and health care professionals attended. We asked our audience: “What are you going to do to save Oklahoma health care?”

We supported the message with infographics, door hangers for Capitol offices and a coordinated op-ed campaign from hospital CEOs.

Some legislators said our campaign was crying wolf, so we asked health care administrators to stand up and say exactly what would happen to their hospitals, services and communities if the Legislature did not act. We edited highlights from each speaker and turned them into short videos to promote on Facebook. We targeted legislative districts with our new information through detailed social media ads, and we purchased ads in newspapers.

Finally, it was time to vote. In an unlikely turn of events, the Republicans supported the cigarette tax, while the Democrats were still holding out for an agreement to accept federal funds. The Legislature left the vote open until midnight, but ultimately, the cigarette tax turned to ash.

However, within days the Legislature removed the proposed Medicaid cuts and miraculously found money to avoid the health care crisis. The makeOKbetter campaign accomplished its original goal to preserve health care funding, and developed a foundation to continue to educate lawmakers next session.

Rough Landings Made Right: Don’t Leave Your Audience Up in the Air

Coming home from a vacation in paradise always hurts a little. On a recent trip, poor corporate communication made it worse, until a quick-thinking flight attendant eased the pain.

After spending several days in the pool and on the beach south of the border, the flat concrete expanse at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport felt like the last place I wanted to be. I just wanted to get through customs and get home to my dog.

Then the pilot took to the intercom.

“Well, folks. It looks like there’s still a plane at our gate,” he said. “So we’re going to wait here a few minutes.”

I groaned. People around me shook their heads and muttered.

Then a flight attendant picked up the mic.

“Ladies and gentlemen, because our flight was faster than expected, we’ve arrived at the gate about 20 minutes early, so the gate isn’t available. We should still have you off the plane on time.”

People nodded. Shoulders relaxed. Visions of sprints to connecting flights evaporated. Thumbs flew over keyboards as everyone updated friends and family.

I give the pilot points for trying to get information to the cabin quickly. But if he had taken another moment to carefully consider his words, he could have left people with a positive impression, rather than giving passengers one more reason to grumble.

The pilot and the flight attendant, employees of the same airline, delivered essentially the same news: Passengers were going to be trapped with each other for a few more minutes. But they took different routes and got very different reactions.

The scenario carries three lessons for communicators and companies:

  1. Transparency matters. When companies explain WHY something is happening, not just WHAT is happening, people are more likely to view the position kindly. That’s especially true if customers face inconvenience.

  2. Messaging matters. The words communicators choose can play a decisive role in whether people cringe or cheer.

  3. Every employee is part of a brand. Organizations must make sure any potential representatives are on board with messaging and understand communications are critical.

At Candor, we’re always ready to help organizations craft messages to improve how people receive them, even when the news isn’t all good.

10 Questions to Ask BEFORE Starting a Design Project

Your supervisor just came to you with a great idea for a new collateral piece. Now what? Where do you start? Do yourself – and your designer – a favor by asking these 10 questions before embarking on any design project. It will save your company valuable time and money.

1. Budget

The very first thing to decide when considering any design is budget. Budget will determine everything from the size, shape and weight of your project. That annual report your boss wants mailed to customers? Consider splurging on great photography to create an online annual report rather than purchasing expensive postage for mailers.

2. Deadline

As a general rule, items such as brochures, mailers and posters need three to five days for design and another week for printing. However, large projects and custom pieces often need up to three weeks for design and two weeks for printing.

3. Audience

Take a moment to envision your target audience. Is this project for a younger or older audience? Male or female? Adjust details on the desired outcome. A brochure for a senior living community might require a large font, while a fact sheet for the zoo would include bright colors and graphics.

4. Brand

Design should ideally adhere to an organization’s established brand standards. Your designer will need this road map to ensure they use the right logo, fonts and colors.

5. Purpose

What is the desired result of your design? Clearly defining a call to action provides the designer creative freedom to artistically illustrate an emotion or idea. We often see this rule play out in political ads which use colorful graphics in red to encourage a “no” vote.

6. Medium

Will this design be created for print, web, email or a mobile app? Each medium has rules. Knowing the intended channel immediately gives the designer an understanding of the size of their canvas and how to format color (see #9) and fonts (see #10).

7. Style

Choosing the style of a design is relatively easy once audience and purpose are determined. Should the piece be formal and elegant or artsy and whimsical? Should the finished design be sleek and glossy or plain? It’s important the look and feel of the design match the overall message.

8. Graphics

Knowing your budget will help determine whether to hire a photographer or buy stock images. Limited budget? It’s time to get creative with use of color, shapes or readily available photos.

9. Colors

Color affects mood and tone, so it’s important to understand the research of color psychology. To really confuse matters, there are also Pantone colors and web-safe or HEX colors.
Side note on color for print vs. web: Designers work with color modes referred to as CMYK and RGB. Anything designed for the web (or anything with a screen) is in RGB (red, green, blue) mode. Anything dealing with printed material is in CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) mode.

10. Fonts

Finding the right font is challenging, but it’s often the final touch that brings the piece together. When selecting a typeface for young children or the visually impaired, sans serifs are preferable. Its simplified letterforms are easier to recognize.

Additionally, not all fonts work well for web or email. Each computer has a different operating system with certain fonts installed. There are a handful of web safe or “universal” fonts that should be on every computer – so the way it’s seen on the screen is the way your audience will view it as well.

Asking these 10 questions before every design project will ensure an efficient and cost-effective product. By thinking through the logistics (printing, paper, distribution) and desired results you can avoid costly revisions or a failed campaign. The last thing anyone wants is to spend weeks fine-tuning a beautifully designed piece and then find out you can’t afford to print it.

Ralf Speth, CEO of Jaguar Land Rover, sums it up like this, “If you think good design is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design.”

The Power of the Founding Story

Ever wondered where you came from? I recently joined over 50 family members for a heritage tour throughout NW Oklahoma to see where my great-great grandfather and other ancestors homesteaded in the late 1880s. We visited gravesites, old homes, museums, churches and more. We shared stories passed down through the generations and common themes emerged such as a pioneering spirit and commitment to public service.

Just as family history defines my personal brand, the same is true for organizations. Looking back into a brand’s history often best explains its mission, culture and values. Here are four reasons organizations should share their founding story.

It Humanizes a Brand 

Throughout the heritage tour, I heard stories about my great-great grandpa, who brought my family to Oklahoma and was the first elected sheriff in Kingfisher County. The stories truly came alive when I saw his picture, held his old handcuffs and heard a tape recording describing his arrest of famous bank robbers. Sharing a brand’s past makes it more personable. For example, use pictures from when a company’s founder still had to get their hands dirty to get the job done. Reflecting on an organization’s roots with photos or video will help the audience to form a more personal connection with your brand.

 

It Provides Context, Which Helps Paint a More Complete Picture of Your Organization

Our heritage tour focused on where our ancestors homesteaded in Oklahoma. While my great-great grandparents’ home is no longer standing, the local museum had paintings of them! This painting shows the dugout where they lived during the first four winters in Oklahoma and describes the hauling of the wood and brick to build the larger home, which finally had concrete added in 1910. The painting helped me picture what life was like back in the early 1890s and the challenges my ancestors faced. When sharing an organization’s founding story, be sure to explain the time period to provide context. Did your company create opportunities during the Great Depression or the oil boom? How has your organization adapted through the years? Understanding where an organization came from provides an indication of where it is headed and what consumers can expect.

 

Founding Stories Establish Values 

Culture and values are critical to building a business, hiring and retaining employees and reaching target audiences.

My great grandfather, Lloyd Long, always shared a poem which still hangs in every family member’s home. I was raised reading and hearing what we dubbed “The Long Philosophy.” It describes my ancestors’ optimism and servant-oriented hearts. The Long Philosophy became part of my core value system and after gaining context from my family’s founding story, these words took on new meaning.

How do you communicate about your organization’s values? While posting a list of values around a workplace or on a website can be a good reminder, a Booz Allen Hamilton/Aspen Institute survey on corporate values found 77 percent of respondents said explicit CEO support is one of the “most effective” practices for reinforcing the company’s values. Ask leadership to explain the story behind the organization’s values to provide context. Reinforce the values during hiring, training and performance reviews. Ensuring these values are ingrained into an organization’s culture helps differentiate its brand.

 

Sharing Your Founding Story Creates Loyalty 

Recent research from Harvard Business Review shows brand loyalty is built on shared values. Now over 50 of my family members know the story of our ancestors who homesteaded in Oklahoma… and we’re passing it along! I live tweeted the heritage tour and other family members posted pictures and memories on Facebook. You could say we’ve become brand advocates.  Help your audience understand your value system in a new way that will make them feel a part of your brand and build a lasting connection by sharing your founding story.

 

Five Tips from the News Media: How to Increase Trust

Americans have definite views about news and who we rely on to deliver it. As a broadcast journalist who anchored news and sports programs for forty years, I know how important it is to act with integrity and show respect for viewers and listeners. They are quite particular about whom they invite into their homes each day through television or radio, and wise journalists take that relationship seriously if they want to last in the news business.

During my career, including 25 years reporting and delivering news on Oklahoma’s statewide public television network, I knew I was being judged by how I conducted myself every day and whether viewers trusted the news and information we presented. Trust takes much effort to build and can quickly be lost.

A recent study by the Media Insight Project, a partnership of The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the American Press Institute, bears this out. It shows news consumers – the people who watch news on TV, listen to it on the radio or read it in newspapers or online – pay more attention to news from organizations they trust.

The report focuses on traditional media journalism, but contains lessons each of us can learn to become more trusted – and more valued – communicators. The study shows dedication to these five principles will increase trustworthiness:

  • Eighty-five percent of adults say accuracy is a critical reason they trust a news source. Getting the story right is the most important factor in gaining trust, regardless of the topic. Providing in-depth information and reliable data increases perceptions of accuracy.

  • Consumers want their news fast…and complete. Seventy-six percent said having the latest details is critical. Organizations that are quick to answer key questions and deliver important details are seen as more trustworthy.

  • Familiarity and openness in reporting methods increases communicator’s trust scores. News consumers are more likely to trust reporters and news outlets they know. Explaining how information was gathered and reported boosts confidence in reporters and builds trust.

  • News consumers appreciate diverse viewpoints presented fairly. They also want to see stories about people like themselves. Finding the right balance of delivering content they can relate to while exposing them to other ideas shows the communicator respects them and appreciates fair play. Most people like that.

  • Overall, the research shows presentation ranks lower than other key trust factors, but Americans definitely want information that is easily understood. Seventy-two percent said it is very important news be concise and to the point while 67 percent say in-depth coverage is extremely or very important. Entertainment and convenience also improve the level of trust in presentation. Increasingly, ease of navigation on a website or app matters to digital users who want to be able to multi-task while they take in news content.

One of the most gratifying aspects of being a journalist is hearing from people who appreciate what you do and how you have made a difference in their lives. Think how powerful that kind of testimonial would be for your business or organization.

Just as news consumers are loyal to journalists they trust, clients and customers typically prefer to work with people they know, respect and trust. So, as you develop your own communications plans, remember, focusing on trust will help your business rise above the crowd and lead to rewarding long-term relationships. Make building trust a top priority in your personal and professional strategy and you will see positive results.