Earlier this week, my friend Jason Mollica wrote an excellent piece on the PR Breakfast Club about the issue of professional credibility, in light of the recent NFL referee lockout and ensuing s***storm caused by the replacement refs.
He hit the nail on the head, as usual, about the importance of credibility in the communications world. We, as professionals, are representing ourselves, our companies and our clients. That’s a lot of investment in a phone call or press release or story pitch. Being a voice and face of a brand is a daunting task for anyone.
I want to prod this discussion into a slightly different direction: media credibility.
The 24/7 news cycle. The rise of “citizen journalism.” The prominence of true multimedia news figures.
Heck, even Anderson Cooper has a daytime talkshow.
TMZ, crude and lewd as it may be, has become perhaps the most credible celebrity news source.
Cooper has a talk show because he is a trusted voice. TMZ is almost always right — and almost always first.
So what makes a credible media outlet? Here are my 5 Components of Media Credibility, ranked in no particular order.
1. Speed: People want information NOW. They will turn to outlets that have stories first. And in an age of retweeting, you want your outlet to lead the pack.
2. Accuracy: You’ve got to be right WAY more than you are wrong. The old adage about baseball is that if you fail 7 times out of 10, you hit .300 and can make it to the Hall of Fame. Media outlets generally don’t have that luxury.
3. Scope: Sometimes, like in TMZ’s case, a smaller, specialized operation can have immense credibility. Years ago, I had to read a magazine called Pig International, a pub all about the pig breeding industry. While it was a small outlet, I trust that they were true subject matter experts in that field. If they tried to discuss the Middle East foreign policy of Canada, I’d be skeptical.
4. Experience: Covering a beat for a long period of time does give you credibility. The fact that you’ve seen a story or type of story play out over years does carry weight with readers.
5. Distribution: At the end of the day, people need to have access to the reporting. It seems like a “duh” aspect, but it’s not. You have to distribute your story to the people that need to or want to know it.
Are there more components that go into media credibility?