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With the recent economic climate, it has become imperative for publishers and news organisations to build trust with their audiences and foster better retention. Trust is especially important for readers, who may be bombarded with a constant stream of misinformation that may cloud their ability to distinguish between credible and untrustworthy sources.
Fortunately, there are steps that digital publishers can take to demonstrate their commitment to accuracy, truth and accountability. And with increased trust, subscribers are highly likely to stay subscribed for the long term.
In the following sections, we’ll delve into two key trust-building strategies and explore how publishers can effectively implement them.
Let’s dive in…
Being transparent is essential for building trust with a digital audience. Providing information about who is behind a particular article, how it’s researched, and how editorial decisions are made allows readers to better understand the motivations and biases of the media outlet and its journalists. This can help to create a sense of transparency and accountability.
Providing author bios is a simple but effective way to be transparent about who is producing the news. Author bios tend to include information about a journalist's background, experience, and areas of expertise. This can help readers understand the context and perspective of the journalist, and can also increase the credibility of the publisher overall.
In addition to author bios, publishers can also provide information about their newsroom policies and values. This can include information about how stories are chosen and reported, as well as the organisation's standards for accuracy and fairness. By being transparent about these processes helps publishers demonstrate their commitment to high journalistic standards.
But transparency doesn’t just stop at author bios and company values. It also extends into the relationships with customers too. In today’s world many customers are aware that their data is being collected and used to personalise experiences, and some actually expect it. But there’s also hesitancy to give personal information away without knowing where it will end up.
Being transparent with how data is collected and used helps to put users at ease, ultimately showing that personal data is valued and respected, and will not be misused. Best practices recommend publishers clearly include links to their data privacy policies on registration forms, and consider data collection as a fair value exchange- requesting a small, reasonable piece of personal information in exchange for some value e.g. access to trusted premium content.
Engage with audiences
Engaging with the audience is an important part of building trust with a digital news audience. When publishers encourage readers to comment on stories and participate in discussions, it shows that they value input and are interested in hearing different perspectives. This can help to foster a sense of community and make readers feel more invested.
Incorporating audience input into future coverage is another way to demonstrate the value of reader feedback. By considering the suggestions and perspectives of readers, digital publishers can produce more relevant and meaningful content that resonates with their audience.
Many publishers are experimenting with creative ways to foster community and engagement, for example:
The Ferret offers fact-checking nights in Scotland that are open to members as opportunities to learn and contribute to investigative journalism.
Chicago’s City Bureau’s Documenters Program not only invites its supporters to attend and document civic events and meetings, but it also stimulates their engagement by paying for these contributions.
Honolulu Civil Beat started inviting members to come to monthly coffee chats with their staff in the newsroom.
Overall, engaging with audiences is an important part of building trust with a digital news audience. By encouraging reader participation, responding to feedback, and incorporating audience input into coverage, publishers can foster a sense of community and demonstrate their commitment to their readers.
Why the focus on building trust now?
Overall, helping readers find content they like, and being reliable, informative, and credible, are important strategies for building trust with digital news audiences.
At a time when there’s a higher risk than ever of encountering fake news, and when news scepticism is at an all-time high, publishers who demonstrate a commitment to credibility will stand out from the competition.
This is likely to become even more crucial as time goes on. According to an EY study on Gen Z, 92% of respondents stated that authenticity is more important than any other personal value. This includes the brands they follow and support. On top of this, a study by The Org showed that 84% of US millennials claim they would be more faithful to a brand if it was transparent, with 37% considering a company's values and culture as the crucial elements of transparency.
With these stats in mind, it’s clear to see why building trust could be at the forefront of many publishers’ objectives in the years to come.
For more information, strategies, and best practices for building trust with your audiences, take a look at our recent bundle, “Putting your news readers first”.