How communications professionals can use PR to build brand trust

How communications professionals can use PR to build brand trust

Claire Walker

Claire Walker

Trust plays a big role in modern commerce and communications. It can be a fickle commodity, rising and falling based on your reputation.

Amazon for example, is a brand that we would typically trust. You can buy pretty much anything you want and know that delivery will be quick, especially if you’re a Prime member. It’s a solid brand built on efficiency and doing things right (most of the time). But…would you trust Amazon to deliver your pharmaceuticals? According to CNBC, Amazon is hiring to break into the multi-billion-dollar pharmacy market.

Amazon’s biggest challenge is unlikely to be logistics, but getting customers to trust the brand to deliver drugs to their doorstep. In the UK if you need some paracetamol or cold/flu medicine or need to pick up a prescription, you trust Boots or your local pharmacy, maybe even the local Tesco. Will consumers truly trust Amazon?

In the last year, Firefly worked with a rail infrastructure specialist that had been singled out by Network Rail regarding safety, despite most other operators having worse records. Firefly helped the brand to rebuild trust and take a lead on improving safety, by developing a whitepaper on the future of the rail maintenance industry, launched alongside Network Rail. This helped to prompt the creation of a cross-industry alliance to put in action the issues raised by the whitepaper.

PR is a vital tool in helping to build trust and credibility for brands. Here are my top tips on how it can be done.

Master the art of listening and understanding

OK – admittedly, this is advice that has origins in the dawn of civilisation. But it is often something that does get forgotten. You can get so wrapped up in the excitement of launching into a new market, or a start-up that’s launching itself onto the world stage, meaning listening and understanding can sometimes take a backseat.

Taking time to continually listen to your customers and understand their needs and questions is important. But you must also make sure that anything you say is going to be actioned. If your communications team and operations team are well-linked, then you know that you can do something about feedback and questions you receive.

For example, it’s intensely annoying to have a social media account respond quickly to your enquiry, but then not actually DO anything about it. It’s a bit like Virgin Trains tweeting at that guy who ran out of loo roll ‘lol yeah sh*t happens’ rather than actually dispatching someone to help him in his hour of need. Tying up operations and communications can help you to listen to your customers and then action requests or complaints, to make sure you’re doing what you said you would do.

Focus on your expertise and accomplishments

Whilst it’s tempting to talk about your products and services, the activity that will build trust and credibility for your brand is your knowledge of an industry and the issues it faces. Expertise and knowing “your stuff” is far more effective in building trust and credibility than how fast your product can measure a piece of string.

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