A New Era of Public Trust: Relationships & Reputation is PA's Currency

Article 18 min
Understanding how to build trust is key to communicating and gaining respect in this new era. In this TED Talk, Rachel Botsman discusses the shift in our concept of trust.

Managing conversations on social media is about more than just commenting, responding and moderating. It is about developing, building and maintaining trust across platforms. With the advent of social media as a mainstream form of communication, there has been a change in how trust is distributed among people and organizations.

In "We've Stopped Trusting Institutions and Started Trusting Strangers," trust researcher Rachel Botsman examines the shift from trusting institutions like banks and the government, to relying on others like our family, friends and even strangers. Using her discussion of trust, think about how you can build trust with the public as a public affairs professional. Consider the trust you must build with reporters, the media and your audience. Recognize how social media, smart phones and other technologies have changed the way people trust by making institutions seem shady, closed and centralized, by displaying top-down leadership and communication strategies. This sense of “institutional” becoming synonymous with “corporate,” “questionable,” or even “deceitful” has pushed people towards trusting a distributed model that favors transparency, inclusiveness, decentralization and bottom-up leadership. Understand this is what your unit members, your social media followers and your enemies have become knowledgeable of, if not accustomed to, whether they recognize it or not.

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