According to the latest Harris Poll, “Americans trust online news sources as much as local papers.” Perhaps the most striking statistic in the new poll is that Internet news and information sites received a higher “trust” rating (69%) than national newspapers (60%).
Here are three strategic conclusions we can draw from this poll, as well as lessons marketing, branding and public relations professionals need to learn:
Intelligent audience engagement via social media and rich-content websites will increase. Internet news sites are going to be perceived as being as credible as news articles in traditional publicity venues such as trade magazines or a nationally acclaimed newspapers.
Savvy marketers should align their content strategies to ensure white papers, blogs and digital-content assets are well-placed and propagated on the search engines, because the public doesn't implicitly trust one medium over the other. This means there's a terrific opportunity for intelligent engagement of your audience.
The qualitative measure of PR will change. Conventional wisdom at many corporate public relations departments and executive offices still places a premium on measuring media placements in print publications. This poll, as well as others, supports the notion that audience engagement via Web-related news sites and thought leadership presents a pivotal opportunity to re-evaluate the PR-IQ of your media outreach strategy.
The blurring of the line between “trusted sources” and “advertised facts” will accelerate. If these poll results hold true, the ongoing blurring of the lines between “spun media” and “trusted source of news” will create an opportunity for savvy branding and marketing professionals to integrate their advertising platforms and create a blend of indistinguishable content whereby the target audience is “seeing and believing” simply because the content was placed on the same “venue.” For example, we already know from other studies that Google advertised links do as well as organic links. Imagine the possibilities.
The bottom line: Digital content is now a factual asset and no longer the pipe dream of the young and the restless. It's a Main Street vehicle to deliver “ trusted information.” Use it or lose it.
Gal S. Borenstein is founder and CEO of the Borenstein Group, an integrated marketing communications company based in Fairfax, Va. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.