How valuable is PR to reputation management (really)?

Two young boys and businessmen dressed in suits and glasses sit at a desk with a homemade lie detector machine. This serious interview is conducted in an office and the machine is predicting a lie from the job candidate. Dishonesty will eventually catch up to you.

Lack of faith seems to be a common theme in the year 2018. As we mentioned on the blog last week, those GDPR emails are coming thick and fast, and they don’t exactly smack of public trust. Then there’s the ongoing menace of fake news. So how do brands avoid losing a reputation management war in this era of disbelief?

Our downloadable Guide to Earned Media goes into great detail about the impact of widespread distrust on brands overall, and the effect this has had on how audiences view and consider the information the media presents them with. But what about the media itself?

Cision’s State of the Media report looks at the relationship between journalists and PRs, and has some telling stats to offer. The latest annual study was unveiled at the end of April, and made it clear the press still sees plenty of value in public relations contacts. 20% believed these were more precious than ever, 70% thought they were as valued as in the past.

63% of respondents also said they preferred to receive information in the form of a press release or official news announcement, as oppose to social media or other sources. 44% considered a press release the most trustworthy brand-owned source.

Cutting to the chase, reputation management relies heavily on those representing the brand to the press— in house or external— having a good reputation with the press outlet.

What about readers? 

Perhaps the most telling results from the Cision survey were those relating to how journalists see their own audience.

71% believe the public has lost trust in the profession, which is staggeringly high albeit lower than 2016’s figure (91%). 56% thought fake news was making readers more skeptical, and as a result more than 81% of UK reporters now considered accuracy the most important job requirement, rather than speed.

It would seem the press itself is fighting its own reputation management battle.

Just the Facts paper sign

What should brands know? 

From all of the above it doesn’t take much to realise it has never been more important to have effective representation when it comes to brand dealings with the press.

Those in receipt of your potential story ideas and angles want professionalism and details they can trust. They also clearly place a high value on relationships with those they feel they can trust, paving the way for stronger ties that will in turn help all reputation management efforts. And by that we don’t just mean when all hell breaks loose.

Only 23% of UK journalists considered information on company websites to be reliable, and brand spokespeople were considered trustworthy by less than half of those surveyed in many territories. This begs the question, how can brands succeed at reputation management without high quality representation to the press?

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