Maintaining credibility in the new media environment

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It’s arguably the greatest paradigm shift of the digital age: while there’s more access to information than ever before and media sources abound, it’s easy to feel starved of reliable news.

From click bait journalism to war cries of ‘fake news!’, the stories we’re inundated with – and the sources contributing to those stories – can quickly start to repel the people they originally set out to influence. Audiences are increasingly skeptical and frustrated with being served stories that have little to do with real news and are instead perceived to be pushing a secondary agenda.

So how do businesses maintain credibility in a media landscape where the terrain is rocky, and a misstep can result in some pretty uncomfortable reputational bumps and bruises? We believe in some basic guidelines that can help to smooth the path.

Lead the conversation outside the media
Seeking opportunities for thought leadership outside the scope of traditional media is an excellent place to start. If Board members and other organisational leaders are seen to lead thinking in their areas of specialty, credibility is given an immediate and lasting boost. Speaking appointments, professional presentations to conferences and other gatherings, contributions to credible papers, journals other information sources are all means of building a credible reputation that will help when it comes time to engage with the media. 

Best laid plans…
When dealing with an already jaded audience, even small inaccuracies can be disastrous. In the modern media landscape, audiences are always ‘on’ and looking to catch out the smallest errors – even those born from the best of intentions. This means authenticity and openness are key. When conveyed successfully, these are attributes that appear effortless; in reality, both require careful planning and consideration. Key messages, supporting statements and even ‘off-the-cuff’ responses to media take time to craft well and should be given the attention they deserve.

Embrace all mediums
Like it or loath it, social media is a significant source of information for modern media audiences, driven by the algorithms of Facebook and Instagram serving click-through links to stories left right and centre. Time again we see companies refuse to engage on social media, almost universally with the same outcome – by ignoring the forums where conversations are taking place about their brand, they hand the dialogue over to others and lose control of their own narrative. No single other action is as potentially damaging to credibility as this. Every platform where an organisation’s story is being told should be seen as an opportunity for credibility to be reinforced.

Lean In
No man (or woman, or business…) is an island. It’s important to accept when things are unknown, and establish dialogues with the people and businesses who can fill the gaps. In a time when digital connectedness can leave us feeling more isolated than ever before, leaning in to opportunities to engage with likeminded professionals and brands – those who align with our beliefs, business related or otherwise – is essential. These connections are reminders of the value that is inherent in traditional communication and can significantly boost capacity to provide well information opinions to media when the time comes. When we’re well aligned with others we’re strengthening our own brand and, by extension, the credibility of that brand.

Finally, and perhaps the most important point of all – we truly believe that as audience members the responsibility lies with us all to actively selective the media we consume, because sources that are supported will flourish. If you believe in the credibility of a media outlet, show it the support it needs to thrive.

Looking to better articulate who you are and what you do? Need to communicate the meaning in your organisation or shore up your media engagement strategy? We can help. After all, we’ve been helping to build brands and raise reputations in WA for 20 years. Contact us to learn more.