Building trust is at the core of public relations

I read this quote some time ago and it has stayed with me since then. As the name of this column suggests, I have always looked at the profound side of everything and now that I work in PR, I look at everything from that lens – drawing connections and similarities. Since trust is the most important pillar of any relationship, today, I will be writing on its significance in the brand-building exercise. Many years go into brand building and preference is created amongst consumers but how do you make them believe in you and trust you? Indeed, it is a difficult task. 

Looking at the recent examples of Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra getting badly trolled depict how trust is important in communications. Priyanka Chopra was being trolled when her picture went viral where she is smoking; and since she is asthmatic and had endorsed ban of crackers during Diwali. Deepika was seen with a director who is caught in #MeToo controversy. The backlash came after what they had been preaching wasn’t aligned to what they were practicing. Although Bollywood PR is different from corporate PR, the stakes of reputation are equally high in both. I think it’s very important to practice what you preach, as goes the adage. Specifically, in the internet age of today when anything becomes a meme and you trolled within a few minutes; it is very important that you are following what you are propagating. Nestle faced immense backlash when Maggi loyalists found one fine day that their beloved snack contains lead that they had been eating since so many years. The damage caused to the brand was evident. 

So how do you establish trust? Is it easy to gain the trust of your consumers, employees and other stakeholders? The recent episode of Zomato taking a stand and calling food itself as a religion is a great example of how a brand can establish trust amongst its consumers. There is indeed a risk involved when making such a bold step but if it works out, then it is an amazing thing for a brand to achieve. N. Chandramouli, chief executive, TRA Research that comes out with a report on most trusted brands of India every year based on 61 attributed trust matrix, had said in a statement – “Without trust, the entire engagement of a brand becomes ineffectual. The trust a brand generates is the basis of all transactions that consumers have with the brand.” 

In the journey of building trust, the example of Xiaomi is noteworthy. The perception battle faced by Chinese mobile phone brands to establish trust amongst consumers is well-known. However, Xiaomi has achieved the position of being the No. 1 mobile phone brand in India today while there was a time when people couldn’t even pronounce the name properly. Recently, the brand cancelled a launch event in Guwahati and donated the money to CM’s relief fund to save people caught in floods. It was indeed an action-packed belief in a good cause that led to the building of trust in the brand Xiaomi. 

I also think that trust cannot be built in a day. I mean how many times have you been in a relationship and trusted the other person immediately? Public Relations is very similar to any relationship. In fact, working with media or sending out messages on social media, all forms of content have the end goal of engaging stakeholders to build trust. Like there are stepping stones to success in a relationship, similarly, building trust amongst the key stakeholders be it consumers, employees, investors and so on, can only happen over time. 

On this note, I would like to mention that this year PRAXIS which is happening in Goa (which is so cool! 😊), is themed on building trust is at the core of public relations. The theme is highly interesting and a relevant one in today’s times and I hope that we will learn more about how brands can establish trust amongst stakeholders.

Pratishtha Kaura
PR Professional
Coming from the millennial club of PR professionals, Pratishtha works at Archetype (formerly Text100). With over six years of experience in communications, she has been creatively storytelling for brands across consumer, education, arts &culture sectors. Listed in PR Moment 30 under 30, the annual list of top 30 PR professionals (2017), she strongly believes in driving PR for PR – one stakeholder at a time!

Inspired by the character of Jessica Pearson from Suits, she advocates for women’s equality at work and life and wants to write a book on the topic one day.
She can be reached at @PR_wali on Twitter.

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