Wednesday, November 18

Getting Back Consumer Trust

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending my first Council of PR Firms dinner and meeting. The overall theme was trust, as in consumer trust. As a business community we have clearly lost it so the question is "how do we get it back?".

I think the answer lies in who you are as a leader, what organization you are a part of, and what industry you compete in.

A high profile partner in a law firm that defends clients accused of insider trading is going to have a tough time getting trust back. But an organization led by highly ethical individuals who are sincerely looking out for the interests of their consumers and their employees certainly stands a better chance of earning back trust.

The economic climate of the last year or so has taught us all to be on the lookout for spin. We can smell a rat from miles away now. So it's become much less about what brands and businesses say, and much more about what they do. Actively and consciously do. That's what counts.

Employees cite "working for someone I trust" as a key ingredient for staying with a company. This is a huge issue for employee retention and satisfaction on the job.

And as consumers, if we see a brand driving innovation, or taking active steps to help consumers, or giving back to their employees, then we will trust them. And then it's ok if that brand tells us about their work because it's coming from a sincere place.

HYUNDAI. The first car to offer free car payments to any owner who loses their job. The brand shouted this program from rooftops and we collectively, happily, bought in. So many other brands followed.

IPOD. Innovation after innovation that keeps our lives connected and fun. MAC is high on the list of trusted brands.

JON STEWART. Voted most trusted journalist after Walter Kronkite's death because he tells it as he sees it and makes no bones about it.

KASHI. Seven whole grains on a mission offering great food products for consumers and giving back to the communities. Building trust with every power bar.

Just a few examples of "brands" that are ranking high on the trust meter these days, all of whom you may not have thought much about just a short time ago.

Consumer trust. Can we get it back again? You bet. But only with real actions with a sincere purpose. And then we can talk about them. We also need to win back the trust of our employees as well with the same gameplan.

What's your experience? Jim.

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