All about trust - Part 3: IoIC’s Trust or Dare event recap

Updated: Sep 21, 2020

The inspiration behind this series of blogs, the Institute of Internal Communications (IoIC) London Region’s Trust or Dare event took place at the Grange White Hall hotel in London last night. It was a fantastic evening of engaging presentations, interesting discussion and friendly networking, as everyone enjoyed a few drinks and nibbles in the hotel’s attractive gardens. If you wanted to come but couldn’t, or perhaps were considering it but didn’t get around to snapping up a ticket, here’s a recap of some of my favourite takeaways from the event:

The evening opened with Jason MacKenzie, MD of Curzon PR, who asked whether we are really trusting less or is there just more transparency which invites more challenge. He talked about the three behavioural pillars of trust - honesty, reliability and competency – but stressed that we don’t conflate the trust between humans with that we have with organisations. Ultimately, a company needs to actually be doing good things in order for comms to be able to tell stories that build trust, as without this comms have nothing to build with.

Rachel Royall, Director of Communications for NHS Digital, shared an incredibly poignant story of sticking to facts and principles in the midst of a media crisis. When a front page ‘revealed’ an NHS anaesthetist to be a criminal who had potentially put hundreds of patients lives at risk, Rachel objectively and methodically uncovered the facts behind the story (which turned out to a smear campaign initiated by the doctor’s ex-husband) and ensured the employee in question was supported and defended during one of the most stressful times of her life. My short recap here will never do justice to how incredibly moving this story was to hear.

James Hodson, IC Business Partner at KPMG spoke about three things critical to organisation in building trust among its employees. The first was a vision and mission that are shared and understood through the stories the organisation tells. The second was authenticity, especially among leadership, who can be more effective if they reveal their vulnerabilities. Finally, to build trust an organisation needs to trust its people and one of the most effective ways to do this is to give them a voice and platform and arm them with stories to share.

Closing the first half of the event, Deborah de Satge, consultant for de Satge Communications, talked about how nudge theory can be applied in communications to help build trust with audiences. Nudge theory uses typical human behaviours to nudge people toward a change in habits, and is a technique employed by many organisations to gently encourage a preferred behaviour. One of the critical things Deborah explained IC can take from this is to make it really easy for people to both understand and action our messages.

The second half of the event began with Jim Connor, Director of Communcations, Commercial Banking for Lloyds Banking Group asking what happens when trust hits zero distance (the levels of trust are so low we can no longer ‘trust as far as we’d throw someone’)? History tells us that it presents a huge risk of failure that can be very difficult to recover from. Because of this reputation management should be at the heart of everything you do but it’s not about better spin, it needs to be about being a better company.

Ant Cousins, Director of Customer Success at ProFinda walked us through the trust equation – the factors we are all use when calculating how well we can trust someone. In order to build trust, people need to feel we are credible and have the right level of experience or expertise, that we are reliable through a good track record and how well we appear to understand them and their needs, referred to as intimacy. All of this can then be undermined by our perceived level of self-interest and whether our motives are judged to be self-serving.

Victoria Lewis-Stephens, Executive Engagement Director at Instinctif Partners, gave examples where organisations are being more daring. The Bank of Ireland put change in the hands of their people, speaking to as many of them as possible and then articulating their purpose and values based on these discussions. Bacardi showed that if you are trusted, you can be daring and shed traditional values forthree pillars - fearless, founders and family – that would empower their people to go above and beyond.

The evening closed with Tobi Olutade, Communications Intern at the Cabinet Office and Ethics Officer for Kent Union, who gave her own views on why diversity matters if people are to trust comms. Talking about examples like the Pepsi campaign, where a lack of diverse perspectives meant ill thought out, borderline offensive messages were communicated, Tobi powerfully called for more diversity in communications. She asked that we should all at least ensure we are conducting deeper research to ensure the views of many different people are considered and take the time to really understand and connect with our audiences.

If you would like to know about the upcoming events held by the Institute of Internal Communications, check their calendar of events here.

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(Photo credit: Lisa Riemers)