Sarah Skinner, CEO of Grace Blue EMEA , on the importance of ‘trust’ in media during the pandemic

During times of uncertainty – Trust is one of the most important and highly valued ingredients for survival. It’s not tangible, not a KPI metric, not something that can be ‘bought’, but it is vital, and during the Covid-19 pandemic this is being highlighted more than ever, especially in the media and communications industry.

Back in January, I attended the Advertising Association LEAD conference where the central theme was trust. As Keith Weed said ‘Without trust, advertising has no future. A brand without trust is just a product. Advertising without trust is just noise’. At the Enders/ Deloitte media and Telecoms conference in March, Karen Blackett talked about the trust equation: Trust equals credibility plus reliability, plus empathy divided by self-orientation and how as marketers, the area where we can do the most to rebuild trust with consumers is to increase empathy and reduce self-orientation. Finally on the eve of the lockdown the future of the BBC license fee was under threat, amidst alleged accusations of a lack of it’s trusted editorial impartiality by the government during the Brexit and election coverage.

And then Covid-19 struck our lives. Everything changed. What remained constant was our need for trust.

When speaking to one of our national newspapers, I was struck by ironic juxtaposition that ad revenue was being haemorrhaged yet they were having unprecedented traffic surges to their website. The BBC must surely have secured it’s future with Ofcom reporting that over 83% turn to it as the most used source of information.  Brands that have purpose, that have built trust and empathy with their consumers over the long term, are the ones we turn to.

Even more revealing is how often the word ‘trust’ is being used by so many people that I am speaking to. Where there is trust in and amongst the leadership team, there is talk of innovation, mutual support, bravery and hope. This trust enables teams to speak honestly and openly, and trusted leadership gives direction in times when we need it more than ever.

And finally, when we have got through this current crisis (which we will) and the analysts look back at lessons learnt, (which they will) then I predict that the importance of trust will be a central theme, and key ingredient for those who best weather the storm.