Why Trust is Crucial in Turbulent Times


  • By Molly Bennett
  • June 15, 2020
Graphic illustration of hands coming together in a

Molly Bennett is a senior content director at MSP‑C. Here, she explores why businesses need to be there for customers for good times—and not-so-good times.

It’s only June, but we’ve experienced not one but two seismic events so far this year. After COVID‑19 hit, we drastically changed our daily routines, upped our standards of hygiene and learned what “social distancing” meant.

Then, in late May, the world watched in horror as George Floyd died at the hands of four Minneapolis police officers—just the latest in a long line of police killings of black Americans, including that of Breonna Taylor in mid-March. The ensuing demonstrations and destruction triggered passionate discussions about the stain of white supremacy, the role of the police and the Black Lives Matter movement.

When the world feels like it’s turning upside down, we look for reassurance. Appropriate communication from those in positions of power is essential at times like these, whether it’s to disseminate public health information, to address calls for legislative action or simply to soothe fears and calm heightened emotions.

While it seems crass to even mention content marketing in the same breath as these events, the need for good communication extends beyond public officials to companies. Indeed, in recent years, customers and employees have begun to expect that businesses take a stand. No longer is it acceptable for a company to be a passive, impartial observer of world-shaking events. People want that company to have an opinion—even if they don’t end up agreeing with it.

Many companies pressed pause on their content calendars during the initial COVID‑19 outbreak to make sure they were publishing content that appropriately addressed consumers’ worries and ever-changing circumstances. And we’ve seen a swath of prominent companies speaking out against George Floyd’s killing and in support of the broader Black Lives Matter movement. While this latter tactic won’t win over everyone in our highly politicized world, these companies read the public mood and gambled on taking a stand that they could feel good about.

But what’s essential here is trust. If a company hasn’t shown itself to be authentic and genuine in the past, it will struggle to convince current and potential customers that they can trust what it’s saying now. And that’s what sets content marketing apart from pure marketing. Sure, the objective is still to win new customers and deepen relationships with existing ones, but the best content marketing does this by building trust. Here are three ways to do that.

Three ways to build trust through content

1. Be accurate and be resonant.

At MSP‑C, we achieve this by combining journalistic accuracy with the art of storytelling, and by listening to readers via data analytics and other methods. If what we create isn’t resonating, we know about it, and we can fix it.

2. Be there in the good times and the bad times.

Establishing a consistent voice in the marketplace means that when a crisis strikes, a company’s response will come across as genuine, rather than opportunistic.

3. Be quick off the mark.

While pausing to reflect is no bad thing, don’t wait too long. Most of the time, it’s better to say something than to say nothing at all. Silence, after all, speaks volumes. And even if it’s not exactly right the first time, it’s OK to learn from and correct mistakes. In fact, it can be the most human and relatable thing a company can do. And that builds trust.

Read next: Why Journalists Make the Best Content Marketers

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