Resonating with Clients and Staff
Building trust and reputation through authentic messaging
The 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer indicates there is greater trust overall in brands/companies than in government institutions. According to the report:
- Trust is granted based on two attributes: competence (delivering on promises) and ethical behavior (doing the right thing and working to improve society).
- Through surveys, Edelman learned that ethical behaviors such as integrity, dependability and purpose drive more than 75% of the trust capital in business. Competence only counts for 24%.
It is imperative now more than ever to establish your brand reputation and build that foundation of trust with clients/customers, employees and potential clients.
But how do you begin creating a communications plan that builds brand reputation? What key indicators can you use to evaluate your current messaging to ensure it is resonating with intended audiences?
It all starts with TRUST. Trust is the natural consequence of promises fulfilled, expectations met, and values lived.
Ask yourself – What would reasonable people appropriately expect a responsible organization to do in this situation?
There’s a common expectation that applies to all audiences: Every stakeholder/group/audience expects that you CARE. This all stems from your organization’s values and conveying that authentically and clearly through all communications in order to truly resonate with your audiences.
What does your firm/organization value?
Every piece of content and communication should demonstrate how your company and/or staff are acting out the values of the organization. Maybe those values are outdated and no longer fit with the culture of the organization, or maybe they were established long ago by an administration who is no longer there. There’s no rule that states your values can’t change and evolve with changes in your organization, industry, or society in general. What do those values mean to you, to your staff, and to your clients? How are you living out those values in your work, for your clients, and for your employees? Ask yourself for each message and piece of content: Is it (Value #1), (Value #2) or (Value #3)? If it doesn’t fit in any of these buckets, chuck it!
What’s your brand approach?
Strategize what resources can contribute, what subjects your brand and employees are an authority on, and what innovative approaches to a situation are unique to your brand. Leverage all of these to tell your brand story and build your reputation among clients, customers and staff.
What is your commitment?
What actions is your company/firm taking to make a difference in the current situation, project, issue, or crisis? Be sure you can fulfill the promise, or manage the level of expectation for your commitment, and show how your brand, company, and employees fulfilled the promise. Seek customer and client feedback when a commitment is fulfilled and use those affirmations as references and stories to shape your brand reputation.
A few tips for developing communications that resonate during times of crisis (or any time!):
Identify each audience you want to communicate with, and if time allows create personas and empathy maps for each. It’s a good idea to empathy map your employees as well to ensure you’re delivering the messages that will resonate most. Designate and utilize appropriate communications channels for each audience in order to meet them where they are most likely to be receptive to your message. Remember to use appropriate language, tone and voice for each one – cross-posting the same exact message across all channels will appear lazy and out of place.
Keep the conversation going by monitoring each channel to see what resonates and sparks conversation, and then focus energy on engaging those individuals and nurturing relationships. Collect feedback and monitor conversations to tweak messaging as needed. Or conduct A/B testing to evaluate which messages resonate the most. And it’s always a good idea to do a postmortem after a campaign, project or initiative.
Pull together the project team or a sample group of employees with the marketing team to assess what went well, what worked, what didn’t work or fell flat, what challenges the team encountered or things they weren’t prepared for, and lessons learned. This collected information enables future campaigns to be much more effective, and in turn resonate and build trust with audiences.