Getting Credible in Naples

Pete Blackshaw, EVP of Nielsen Online Strategic Solutions, is currently delivering the keynote speech at the Counselors Academy Spring Conference, and his word of the day is credibility. It’s certainly not a novel concept in this industry (and he was the first to admit it), but he was quick to emphasize that credibility, especially in the context of Web 2.0, is PR’s big opportunity to “own it,” so to speak.

“Credibility should be the new strategic plank for PR firms,” he says.  “The one thing you can take to the bank is, if consumers are having positive or negative experiences  with your brand, that it is going to show up in online conversations.”

He is currently outlining what he calls “The 6 Drivers of Brand Credibility.” They are as follows:

1. Trust: confidence, consistency, integrity, authority. “Where we fail on the trust factor, customers leave a trail of venom,” he says.

2. Authenticity: as advertised, real and sincere, real people, informal

3. Transparency: easy to learn, easy to discover, no secrets

4. Affirmation: playback, reinforcement, search results, community, accountability

5. Listening: empathy, humility, absorbing feedback

6. Responsiveness: follow-up, invitational marketing, solidifying the solution, dignifying the solution

Stay tuned …

By Courtney Barnes

  • Mikal

    If this–what Blackshaw is discussing in his keynote (as you’ve reported it)–is new information to anyone attending this conference or to anyone reading this blog entry, then God help us all. This stuff is so basic that it hurts to have someone with Blackshaw’s credentials speak about it. Thought leaders should already know this stuff, shouldn’t they? Shouldn’t PR agencies already this? Did it really take the notion of “web 2.0” to drive this point home among true PR professionals?

  • Ann

    Obviously, Courtney captured the essence of Blackshaw’s presentation, as well as the theme of his new book. If people “got it” as Mikal implies, it wouldn’t bear repeating. One has only to look at today’s headlines to realize that many leaders still don’t understand the true drivers of brand credibility. Blackshaw’s key point was that PR people are in a unique position to counsel these leaders and ensure that they DO!

  • Pete Blackshaw

    It’s not that simple. Of course credibility is a foundational building block of PR — always has been — but we need to think about what it means, and how it’s nurtured, much differently. The lead “credibility driver” I discussed yesterday, for instance, is “affirmation” which is essentially the collective truths that emerge (largely on the web) about a brand. Search and wikipedia results against brand inquiries drive affirmation. I’m not sure the PR industry has fully internalized the practical consequences of that reality, or what strategies/tactics are needed to shore up the “affirmation” driver. Consumer reactions to customer service are frequently taking “top shelf” in search results, for instance. If customer service is the new arbiter of credibility/reputation, should PR take a deeper dive into that area. Anyway, those were the harder questions I was attempting to pose…sans too many “Web 2.0” buzzwords, which can sometimes be distracting from the core issue.

  • Mikal

    Pete: Thanks for chiming in. Agreed, wholeheartedly, with everything you said. My point though wasn’t in opposition to yours. Rather, that if public relations professionals do not already live and breath these concepts (or have them readily available via their tool belt of strategies), then how professional and advanced are they. I mean, come on… this stuff is PR 101, isn’t it (or shouldn’t it be)? That conference organizers had to bring you in to explain these basic concepts to the PR pros themselves is quite sad, in my opinion. There’s nothing particularly savvy, compelling, or forward thinking in that message (at least it shouldn’t be – not in 2008). Participation is public relations (just as it is sales, marketing, government relations, customer service, merchandising, etc.). It’s really a quite simple concept to grasp, and I was simply pointing out that it’s something our PR pros should know by now. In my opinion, your talk—as described here on this blog–sounded like you were maybe teaching grade school arithmetic to college post-grads.