Credibility: Easy Come, Easy Go?

There is a trust between the public and the brands, companies, and high-profile public personalities they follow. The public operates under the assumption that the information conveyed to them is factual and dependable.

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But is it really?

Unfortunately, even content that upholds the utmost standards of truthfulness is called into question by the most skeptical consumer base in recent history. Insights in Marketing (IIM) conducted a study that indicated a whopping 74 percent of consumers did not trust advertising content in general.

As public relations professionals, it is our business to communicate the ideals of our client or company. There is a fine line between content that is informative and upbeat, and that which is shamelessly promotional. When we err on the promotional side, the hard-earned and carefully protected credibility of the client is immediately called into question.

From the perspective of a consumer of content, it is incredibly easy to sniff out biased or persuasive messaging. While such content is not inherently inferior, it loses a certain sense of integrity.

As editors, we take on the important task of finding and fixing this type of messaging. Writing that contains obvious subjectivity bears a few telling signs; the use of superlatives, flowery description, and brazen claims often allude to the author’s personal opinion.

When clear, concise content is the overarching public relations goal, it is critical to remove the haze of personal bias and allow the messaging to stand on its own. Public relations practitioners must master the balancing act of projecting a positive tone without sacrificing the credibility and believability of the source.

So, go forth and promote away; but steer clear of baseless claims and lofty language. Credibility is precious and is, unfortunately, often fleeting. Don’t give the skeptics out there the opportunity discount your content.



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