Among the key findings highlighted within Ofcom’s new Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes Report is that “Children are more likely than in 2014 to think that various kinds of online information are ‘always true’”.
One in five online 12-15s (19%) believe information returned by a search engine such as Google or Bing must be true, yet only a third of 12-15s (31%) are able to identify paid-for adverts in these results.
It isn’t only parents who should be concerned. Together with the fragmentation of traditional media, the emergence of brand publishing as a marketing discipline has arguably brought more democracy to the publishing process than ever before. But it has also blurred the lines when it comes to discerning what is and isn’t a reliable source of news and information. Who can we trust?
Trusted and reliable
Trusted and reliable sources of news and information are vital if society is to function effectively. Brands using the news channels now available to them will only gain and retain their credibility if they apply editorial values to their communications. Content marketing is a form of commercial journalism and must be reliable in terms of the facts it presents to its audience.
With a team comprising former journalists and senior PR professionals, Intelligent Conversation knows how important it is to track the evolution of traditional media outlets while celebrating the emergence of new digital news sources.
The internet has transformed media and communication beyond all recognition in recent years but some principles hold fast. There remains real value in enjoying professional working relationships with journalists while taking time to understand their changing needs and requirements. Maintaining strong and collaborative relationships eases the flow of accurate information.
Implicit within Ofcom’s research is the suggestion that not all information to be found on the internet can or should be trusted, and that younger people are either apathetic about the difference, or blind to it.
Interestingly, it would be worth asking whether anyone believes what they read in traditional newsprint titles. Unfortunately, the information found via the internet touches so many more people and so many aspects of their lives.
Brands who want to forge lengthy, meaningful and trusting relationships with their audiences now have more opportunities than ever before. But with those opportunities comes responsibilities.
For brand journalism to succeed, it needs to:
- Speak with an authentic and authoritative voice
- Offer reliable news and information alongside clearly signposted opinion
- Reach audiences where they are and on their terms
- Earn and maintain the trust that has traditionally been the reserve of traditional media outlets
- Most importantly, both brand journalism and PR communications must involve content which is credible, useful and appropriate
It’s vital that young people are taught to spot the difference between fact and fiction online. Equally, it is important that brands realise the benefits of that.
The worst possible consequence of the confusion highlighted by Ofcom’s report is that no one believes anything they discover online.
Get it right and there has never been a better time to stand out as a trusted and credible source of information, whether your stories are carried by traditional media outlets or on your own communications channels. We can definitely help you with that.