The Crisis and

Opportunity of Trust

Published March 15, 2017

Mistrust and uncertainty are palpable around the country. Depending on where you sit, the news is fake or the facts are fake ormaybe a little bit of both. The need for trusted leaders is greater than ever as the public and policymakers wade through complex issues, trying to distinguish fact from fiction.

Whatever your industry, now is the time to own your expertise.

Expertise STILL Equals Opportunity

As trust of traditional leadership and long-standing institutions dwindles, there is an opportunity for expertsfrom engineers to C-suite executivesto become known, respected voices. Leaders in their fields can fill a void while raising awareness, strengthening credibility and building their brand.

I’ve worked with clients across dozens of industries, campaigns and causes. The issues aren’t always sexy, but there’s no better time than nowin this crisis of trustto own your expertise and set the pace for your industry. The nation needs a broad spectrum of people who know what they’re talking about to come to the table with a strong voice to inform the conversation. The trust vacuum won’t stay empty for long, and we can’t assume it will be filled by responsible, credible leaders.

Facts STILL matter

The New Yorker published an article recently about how factscategorically true factsdo not change minds. As it turns out, pesky facts have nothing on long-held beliefs (researchers have actually known this for some time). Studies show that people tend to dig in their heels a little bit deeper when presented with information that irrefutably disproves their point.

For the record, we at FHA strongly believe facts do matter. While they may not trigger a sea change of tightly held beliefs, their role in establishing credibility and shaping thoughtful policy shouldn’t be underestimated. The expectation of truth and accuracy creates the opportunities for leadership and conversation we’re seeing in this moment. Trust is held at a premium and, when millions of Twitter users have you under a microscope, you have to get it right.

Thought Leadership STILL Demands Credibility

In the public affairs world, where the messiest parts of policy, politics, business and media intermingle, owning your message and establishing credibility with your audiences is crucial. Thought leadershipserving as the go-to source in your field, informing public dialogue and contributing to solutionsis a great strategy for organizations, companies and causes trying make an impact and meet broader objectives. It’s also an integral part of reputation management. To be effective, you can’t just pop up when they disagree with an editorial or worse, when under attack. Establishing credibility during or after a crisis is, after all, often a bit like trying to fix the roof after it caves in.

Thought leadership isn’t a one hit wonder. It takes vision, endurance and some gumption, but the dividends are rich.

The rallying cry for truth and transparency is loud and clear as can benow is the time to step up, speak up and set the pace in your industry.