Trendlines 2017: Trust and Reputation

Trendlines 2017: Trust and Reputation

2016 was a tumultuous year for trust. From a presidential election that upended many of the rules of politics in the United States, to Brexit in the UK, 2016 tested the public’s trust in institutions, brands, organizations and public figures. 

Declining Trust in the Media & Institutions

A big 2016 storyline has been growing distrust of traditional media and the continued rapid decentralization of mass communication. According to Gallup, the American publics’ trust in media hit a new low of just 32% of adults who reported having a great deal or fair amount of trust in the mass media. Particularly striking is the downward movement between 2015 and 2016, but if traditional media isn’t viewed as a trustworthy messenger, who is? 



It’s not other major institutions either. 


Source: Gallup;

Trust in organized religion, public schools, the Supreme Court of the United States, banks and Congress, organized labor and the criminal justice system have all seen a decline in public trust since 2006. Trust in big business has remained the same, at 18% (Read more at Gallup).

Lack of trust is particularly pronounced amongst Millennials. A Harvard IOP survey found that just 9% of Millennials trust the media “all or most of the time.” While other institutions aren’t quite as distrusted by millennials, they don’t fare well either. 

Looking to 2017 and Key Takeaways

2016 highlighted significant issues in the way institutions, organizations and brands have to handle communications and strategic challenges. As we move into 2017, leaders will have to grapple with how to build trust and protect reputations. Here are five key points:

  1. Building trust and protecting reputations must be a core strategic function of any organization or brand. 
  2. Executives and leadership must take an active role in building trust and ensuring organizational readiness for challenges to reputation and trust.
  3. While trust in the traditional sense is declining in many institutions (and individuals), trust is manifesting itself in other ways, specifically in the sharing economy. According to a report by PwC, consumers trust peer regulation. Finding new ways to connect with the public will be key. 
  4. Organizations and brands must have a framework in place to confront crisis. This must include developing an deep understanding of the constituencies that organizations must address and the assets, external and internal, that are available to assist in doing that.
  5. Organizations and brands should be proactive in building trust and reputations. Communicating value and purpose through CSR and other initiatives should be a part of overarching strategy.

The 2016 Election — Lessons Learned, Questions Answered

The 2016 Election — Lessons Learned, Questions Answered

Just how unusual was the 2016 presidential race from a communications perspective?

It was definitely unusual, perhaps unprecedented. Campaigns are still largely decided on television. Typically, resources are spent on buying ad space. Clinton looked like a much more traditional candidate, making large TV buys throughout the campaign, while Trump didn’t (nor did he really have to in any significant way). Trump may have even exceeded Clinton in raw minutes on air.

The tone and delivery of messaging certainly diverged from campaign orthodoxy in many ways.

What are the key lessons learned? Did 2016 have any implications for running campaigns in the future?

It is true that Trump broke a lot of rules that most consultants would have considered sacred. There was one hard and fast rule, however, that remained unbroken: Candidates have to persuade voters to vote for them. Mediums come and go, it will always be about persuading and motivating voters. Trump was able to steer a lot of the conversation.

Trump was unique in many ways that allowed him to break and bend some the rules. It’s not totally out of the question that other candidates would be able to take the same approach, but there are still guidelines that (most) candidates have to follow.

Is the there a crisis in the political consulting world?

It’s a fair question. This is just a singular result. It’s still valuable to have expertise. The best campaign doesn’t always win, but professionalism and expertise are advantages.

It is important, however, to note that the political consulting field needs to continue to innovate, learn and advance.

Is polling broken? What happened?

Pollsters came out of this with some tarnish. There are a number of theories as to what happened, but it was likely a confluence of factors including increased turnout of low propensity voters in certain key areas, some shyness with pollsters and low response rates. Issues notwithstanding, polling is still an important tool. There is room innovation with multi-modal surveys, better integration of qualitative research and developing new ways to harness found data.

Announcing Publitics Insights[in motion]

Announcing Publitics Insights[in motion]

The Publitics team is excited to announce the launch of Publitics Insights[in motion], an interactive video series focused on providing research, analysis and insights on strategy, communications, politics, reputation management and more.  

The Publitics team will be collecting questions on the topics we will cover for each session.  For our first two installments, we'll cover:

2016 Elections Recap and Looking Ahead

The 2016 presidential election and down ballot races were unique in many ways.  We'll discuss what it all means for candidates, organizations and campaigns more broadly.  

Protecting Reputations in the Era of "Fake News" 

Social media has fundamentally changed the way brands and organizations have to communicate and protect their reputations.  The 2016 election cycle highlighted new issues in the decentralization of media, not least, social media's "fake news" problem.

To help kick off holiday season and our first two installments, we'll hold a drawing for an iPad Mini* to an individual who submits a question on our first two topics.  You can submit your questions to the Publitics team on the topics above on the form below.  All questions will be read anonymously. 

Name *

* To be eligible to win the random drawing for the iPad mini, you must submit a question.  You will be eligible even if your question isn't read on the video as long as you provide a valid email address.  By submitting your email and question, you agree to subscribe to our newsletter.  Publitics respects your privacy and will never share your email with anyone.  

Announcing the Launch of Publitics Political

Announcing the Launch of Publitics Political

Today we are proud to announce the launch Publitics Political, our new political consulting division.  Publitics started just over four years ago with a focus on serving clients in the political arena.  Since then, we have grown to consult for a diverse range of clients across sectors.  

The formation of an electoral-focused division helps us to communicate to our clients that we’re committed to being subject-matter experts and that we are working every day to ensure that they will have access to the latest innovations in electoral communications, messaging and operations.  Our goal is to offer these fundamental components coupled with insight-driven strategy and creative to give clients an edge in difficult races.  

Ultimately, it’s about filtering out the noise and figuring out what’s really important and what will move the needle for our clients.  Our ability to do that, to be more efficient, we believe, is a big differentiator.  

In addition to the launch of Publitics Political, we are equally excited to continue to grow the Publitics brand in a more focused way into the corporate, public and nonprofit space.  




Insights: Second Annual State of Starting Up in the Garden State Survey

Insights: Second Annual State of Starting Up in the Garden State Survey

In 2014 Publitics partnered with New Jersey nonprofit, LaunchNJ, to take the pulse of New Jersey's entrepreneurial and startup community on a variety of issues that are critical to building and maintaining a vibrant entrepreneurial and startup ecosystem.  We are now in the second year of the survey and are proud to announce that 2015's results are now out.  

Friday Read: Measuring '16 Hopefuls By Emojis

Friday Read: Measuring '16 Hopefuls By Emojis

he way we communicate constantly changes and evolves.  The emoji is a part of that evolution.  The Atlantic tapped into Twitter to see how users were using emojis to describe 2016 candidates.  The results showed interesting differences. 

Publitics at INUSA '15

Publitics principal, Matt Krayton will serve on the Global Irish Digital Connections panel at the Irish Network USA 2015 National Conference.  The panel will explore how technology is breaking down barriers and is providing opportunities for the Global Irish community to connect with the economy culture of Ireland on a national and global scale.

Also serving on the panel are Ashlinn Marron of Yahoo and Caitriona Perry of RTE.


Clients in the News: Keeping Entrepreneurs in NJ

 Founder of LaunchNJ, was recently quoted by the Asbury Park Press in a piece about keeping New Jersey's tech entrepreneurs in New Jersey.  The group has been focused and building a stronger entrepreneurial ecosystem in New Jersey to foster economic growth. 

Three Questions: Snapchat's First Political Ads

Three Questions: Snapchat's First Political Ads

With an estimated 30 million active monthly users, Snapchat is a social media force to be reckoned with.  Perhaps one of biggest the signals that Snapchat has arrived is the announcement that Snapchat will serve its first political ad.

The ad buy was placed by the American Action Network and prompted viewers to push Congress to pass TPA (Trade Promotional Authority).  The ad ran during Joni Ernst's Roast and Ride "live story", and is likely the first of many.

Going into 2016 there will be a great deal of chatter about Snapchat.  The disappearing messaging app's active users are overwhelmingly members of the important 18-24 year old demographic block, making it a tempting medium for campaigns that trying to speak to young voters.

As with all decisions about how to spend resources, it's important to weigh the pros and cons of different platforms and strategies.  Here are three questions advertisers should ask before making an ad buy on a new platform:

1.  Who is the target? 

This seems to be obvious, but sometimes novelty can eclipse good judgement.  Again, Snapchat's demographic skews young.  It's important to figure out whether or not that audience is going to receptive or attentive to specific issue-based messaging.

It's unclear whether trade issues are top of mind for the 18-24-year-old set, but it's important to figure it out before pouring resources into an ad buy.  To mitigate some of the risk, the AAN made sure place the ad during a political "live story," increasing their chances of reaching a politically engaged audience.  Just how big that audience is or how likely they are to take action is another question entirely.

2.  What kind of message will work? 

Message is just as important as audience.  What you say will not matter if you don't package the message effectively.  A common mistake on social media platforms, particularly new platforms, is attempting to repurpose content from other mediums to work on social media.  This even applies across social media channels.  What works on Facebook, may not work on Twitter, which may not work on Snapchat.  It's important to keep channel in mind when developing creative and message.

According to reporting in the International Business Times, the American Action Network's ad took the repurposing approach when devising their 10-second spot, reformatting for Snapchat's vertical orientation.  This particular ad doesn't feel like the right tone for Snapchat, but in fairness it is the first political ad on Snapchat.

3.  How can it be targeted?

One of the big advantages to digital is being able to hyper-target messaging.  Some platforms offer more robust targeting at the demographic and geographic level than others.  As it stands, Snapchat is still working out the targeting piece, so buying ads for geographically limited campaigns would be less effective than focusing on platforms that offer better targeting.

-Matt Krayton, Principal and Founder of PubliticsPR+Digital

State of Starting Up in the Garden State Survey

Entrepreneurship nonprofit LaunchNJ partnered with Publitics to conduct and release the first annual “State of Starting Up in the Garden State” survey aimed at assessing the mood of the entrepreneurial community in New Jersey. The survey shows that, while respondents are generally optimistic about the state of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in New Jersey, they believe that there is much work to be done to turn the State into a vibrant entrepreneurial hub.

Over the course of January 2014, we surveyed 108 members of the New Jersey entrepreneurial and startup community. The questions focused on ascertaining how the respondents perceived the current strength of the entrepreneurial ecosystem, the future of the ecosystem and the challenges in building a strong ecosystem in New Jersey.

We found that, generally, the respondents felt that progress has been made over the last few years, but there are distinct challenges that need to be addressed to advance the ecosystem further.

Key Findings:

  • Respondents were lukewarm on the strength of the New Jersey entrepreneurial ecosystem. A plurality of respondents were neutral (45%) when asked about the strength of the New Jersey entrepreneurial community, while 18% felt that it was strong or very strong versus 30% of respondents who felt that the ecosystem was weak or very weak
  • Access to capital is of primary concern for members of the community. Among the concerns of members of the entrepreneurial community in New Jersey, access to capital toped the list, while access to talent and support from local and state government also registered in the top three. Cost of living, access to mentors and educational resources and access to office space were much lower on the list
  • The growth of resources and events are having a positive impact on the perception of the ecosystem. Members of the entrepreneurial and startup community are starting to see the growth of some elements of a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem such as access to Meetups, academic institutions and mentors and reported that they overwhelmingly believe the community is headed in the right direction
  • Community members feel that New Jersey is a welcoming place to launch or grow a venture. Despite attitudes relating to challenges facing the entrepreneurial and startup community in New Jersey, a majority of respondents feel that the State is a welcoming place to startup

Seizing on Momentum

Entrepreneurship is a significant driver of economic growth. New Jersey is well positioned to support a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem and has made strides towards that end. The entrepreneurial community and key stakeholders need to identify opportunities to collaborate on developing smart public policy as well as delivering programming that will support and encourage entrepreneurship and innovation. There is a significant opportunity to translate momentum at the grassroots level into widespread progress.