As any communications agency in Toronto will tell you, trust is the most important cornerstone of any PR campaign. If a brand is not trusted, even a million-dollar PR campaign led by the most brilliant communications agency in Toronto will not yield results. The story and message will be ignored by the audience, and the funds and effort wasted. This all seems profoundly logical and even too obvious at times.

So why are we writing about this? Because while the goal may seem plain and simple, attaining it takes concerted conscious effort and some discipline. In other words, it can be missed and you won’t even know it.

Let’s start from how not to approach this. Don’t put effort into measuring trust. Phrases like “trust deficit” only create confusion, because trust is not easily measured or tangible. It is also relative and not equal.

There is a difference between creating trust and worrying about how trusted you are. Trust should be cultivated. Don’t look for trust or try to gauge what some call “trust levels”, because it is largely a waste of time. There is no ranking system to it.

Instead, look to the best brands out there. They don’t ask how trusted they are, but apply conscious effort to being more trustworthy. This is an actionable course within clear and immediate control of your ongoing public relations.

Here are five ways to establish trustworthiness for your brand:

  1. Always tell the truth. It can be difficult and may sometimes hurt you, but getting caught not telling it will hurt far, far worse.
  2. Be transparent when dealing with the public. There is no way that avoiding tough questions will be seen as anything but untrustworthy behavior. Besides, with the pervasiveness of phone cameras, avoiding the public eye is simply impossible. If there’s a concern, be proactive and come out with a statement even before you are contacted by the media.
  3. Put something on your banner. Leading with values is a strong way of promoting a visionary brand. It can be ecology, animal rights, social issues, anything. A brand that makes its community better will command respect and gain vast amounts of trust along with it.
  4. Listen first. Take consumer feedback to heart and mind, then communicate back to show you are with them. Respect the individual in every person and be prepared that opinions will vary. Brands that talk “at” instead of “with” their audiences are abandoned very quickly.
  5. Be proud of what you are and what you stand for. Brands that radiate integrity and strength get the most respect.