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Trusted communications in a crisis: has the pandemic led to greater public trust in the press?

Crisis communications

It’s an age old saying that the only people trusted less by the public than politicians are journalists – but in today’s climate; whether that’s still true is seemingly up for debate. Crisis communications have become more important than ever, but how are the public digesting this information?

In times of crisis, the public often flock to the news to seek information, guidance, and at times like these – comfort. 

Anybody working in PR or marketing will know all about crisis communications, but you’d be hard pressed to find someone that has seen, or indeed worked through, a crisis on par with a global pandemic.

Coronavirus and everything that’s stemmed from it has propelled the importance of crisis communications more than anything else in living memory, and during times like these – what people need and want is the truth.

Cutting through the noise and having trusted, reliable information, particularly when there are so many sources competing for attention and space, is vital.

But if the public aren’t trusting of the media, as we’re often led to believe, then where can we get this from exactly?

Crisis communications

A return to traditional outlets

Well, since the pandemic began, an increasing number of people have actually turned to more traditional news outlets for information.

That is, at least, according to a recent study commissioned by Newsworks, titled World Without News.

In partnership with the News Media Association and the Society of Editors, the study found that in a world which is often saturated with so-called fake news and misinformation, traditional journalism and of course crisis communications still play a vital role in the everyday lives of the public.

In fact, as many as two-thirds of people say they appreciate and value journalism more now than they did before the pandemic. 

If nothing else, this shows that responsible journalism and well-timed crisis communications have played an essential role in helping us to understand what is happening in the world as the pandemic has developed.

The debate around ‘trust’ has of course not disappeared, and probably never will, but generally speaking, people now also feel less ‘anxious’ about a story they’ve seen on social media once a ‘trusted’ news brand has confirmed its authenticity, with younger generations in particular increasingly making efforts to verify the news cropping up in their social feeds.

Would a world without journalism harm democracy? That’s another debate entirely – but according to World Without News, it seems many believe this to be the case.

In covering important topics that may otherwise be overlooked, journalists, now perhaps more than ever, play an important role in both our society and in the conveyance of truth.

A regional approach

And it’s not just national news outlets either. We mustn’t forget local media in this debate too – in fact, it’s no surprise that regional TV and radio stations saw a surge in popularity at the height of lockdown.

Couple trusted, responsible, local voices at a time of crisis with the fact people were spending more time at home than ever before – and you have yet another example of the importance of crisis communications.

In the era of coronavirus, isolation and uncertainty especially, the media has often been like a friend to many.

What’s your take? 

Do you trust the news more or less now than you did pre-pandemic? Let us know.

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