Editor's Notes: You've Got Nothing Without Trust: The Brian Williams Story
February was a bad month for media trust. “NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams, perhaps America’s most trusted anchor, was caught in a decade-long fallacy about his helicopter coming under fire in Iraq.
Williams is now serving a six-month suspension from the Nightly News desk—he seems unlikely to return to that news post or any other—and Americans everywhere are wondering who they can count on to bring them the truth.
When you work in media, you realize there is exactly one thing connecting you to your audience, and that’s trust. It’s a strong thread, but thin, and it’ll tear away faster than a rotten parachute if you start poking holes in it.
They say the truth will set you free, but a lie can drop you like a stone.
I firmly believe that if we don’t have our readers’ trust, we’ve got nothing. That’s why, even as we’ve ramped up to put out more content on more topics than Target Marketing ever has before, we’re making sure that content is trustworthy and accurate, and as unbiased as possible (while still reflecting the voices and views of our contributors). That’s my highest priority, as well as the priority of our sister publications and websites.
At the end of the day, our audience is all we’ve got, and we’ll only have you as long as we’re worthy of your trust. That’s why, if I had to choose, I’d rather see us misspell a name than misstate the truth.
Doesn’t that apply to direct marketing just as much as it does to the media? Your customers and prospects are your audience, and without them, what have you got?
So as you think about how you’re messaging and treating that audience, remember how easy it was for Brian Williams, America’s most trusted anchorman, to destroy that connection. Think about what the consequences of your own missteps could be before you do anything that might fray trust.