Trust is dwindling in our society.
A recent study found trust in the institutions of business, media, government and even nonprofits is eroding. In fact, trust in nonprofits fell below 50%, just one point above business.
Why? We live in the age of “fake news.” While the phenomenon gained considerable attention in last year’s presidential election, it’s been plaguing us for some time now. Half-truths, massaged facts, and outright lies have been a part of American mainstream for decades. Yet the sudden jolt of fake news hasn’t just eroded our confidence in the media. It’s also heightened our fear and anxiety, causing confusion and deeper distrust in all institutions.
So how do organizations fight back? How do you adapt communications strategies to remain a trusted resource to your stakeholders and other key audiences?
It all starts with honesty.
Take finances, for instance. When organizations report to funders, file taxes, or market their products and services, they have the choice to provide honest accounting and commit to quality control and assurance. The result, if they truthful: Creditors, funders and donors will express confidence by funding their projects and development goals.
The same holds true for communication. Be honest and transparent with your audiences as you interact over social media, blogs, videos, and newsletters. That’s how you’ll win over trust. It’s that simple.
Here’s a few approaches to focus on:
1) Say what you are going to do and then do what you say!
2) Communicate – a lot. Frequent, truthful communication builds confidence and support. Poor communication is one of the key reasons marriages and work relationships fall apart, and why donors and customers walk away.
3) Show people that you care about them. When people know you care about their interests as much as your own, they will trust you.
4) And, once again, be honest! Tell your supporters what’s working and what’s not working. There’s no shame in saying you have failed. Overcoming big societal issues like poverty and inequality involve taking many swings and misses.
Fight back against fake news by creating a candid, running dialogue between your organization and your supporters and clients.
You’ll be more trustworthy — and more successful.