I have been reading the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer, an annual study on the general public’s trust in business, mass media, government and NGOs. The findings are based on the responses of 33 thousand people from 28 countries around the world.
The figures confirm what my instinct had already told me – that trust in traditional mass media and its influence in 2016 fell to a historic low. It has fallen five percentage points in just one year since the previous Barometer.
This is because the traditional pyramid in which an “elite” – including the mass media – influenced most of the population has been overturned.
Now the opposite is happening: if someone wants to buy a camera, choose a school for their children or decide who to vote for, they prefer to ask their next-door neighbour or consult social media rather than rely on traditional, independent sources.
Intermediaries are being eliminated from the process of opinion-making. There is no longer a true institutional source of information and anyone can set themselves up as a producer of news and comment on any topic.
Now that almost everyone uses social media, you can get attention from huge numbers of people. What is said on social media is then echoed at lightning speed on traditional media. You can also just as easily and quickly lose all the attention, credibility and trust you have gained.
Given these changing influencer dynamics, are you sure you are planning communications campaigns in the right way? Have you established specific objectives on who you are trying to reach that are measurable, achievable and relevant? And what are the indicators that will tell you if you are on target or if you must adjust our aim? How can you defend yourself from fake news? And how can you “clean up” the data you obtain?
These questions concern everyone – professional communicators, CEOs, politicians and leaders of organisations, among them.
It is vital to be familiar with communication and measurement tools if you want to assert yourself and your ideas, values and activities. If what you learnt in the past is no longer valid today, it will be even less so in the future.
The solution lies in investment. Investment in new tools of the trade because traditional methods are obsolete and because certain types of data must now be retrieved as rapidly as possible.
That is why continuous professional development is more important than ever.
The expert members of the Measurement Practice have each written their own take on the impact of 2016 events on communications and research. You can read their thoughts here.