Building trust is important in business, and it is no different in the media industry. In journalism, it is important to build that trust almost instantaneously, according to Fairfax Media investigative journalist Kate McClymont.
Ms McClymont was a guest speaker at the first of The Influence Sessions, hosted by The Newspaper Works, at The Establishment in Sydney yesterday. As an extension of the Influential by Nature campaign, the series is a place for industry members to discuss and debate important issues concerning advertising, marketing, and the media.
Leading yesterday’s discussion on trust were five panellists from different sectors of the industry, including an outsider, who provided a different perspective to trust building.
In an opening address, The Newspaper Works chairman Michael Miller said trust “is a fundamental trait of any influencer”.
Panel leader Rob Pyne said everyone accepted trust was important in business, but we often did not stop to think why and how to build it more effectively with partners and clients.
“Few businesses adequately articulate the value and need for trust, or share and formalise the critical components of trust,” he said
John Preston, founder and CEO of Match Media, started the panel discussion by sharing his methods of building trust with clients.
To him, personal values are a driver for all his decisions. “Trust is the most important thing in a time of change,” he said.
Rowena Millward, director of client partnerships at Seven West Media, shared her unique approach to trust, which involves the three buckets of “share a wallet”, “share a heart”, and “share a mind”.
“It takes two to tango; always think of the ‘we’ in a partnership,” she told the audience. “In a negotiation, clients need to have a ‘we’ mentality instead of an ‘I want’ one to build trust.”
Ms Millward said that trust should never be assumed. “Trust is built on expectations and how you deliver on those,” she said.
On the journalism side, building trust with sources is essential according to Ms McClymont.
“In life, as a journalist, acting honestly will always pay off… It is important in the industry to have honesty; you have to find a way to build trust immediately,” she said.
It is important to build relationships that won’t make sources feel like they’re being used, she said.
“As a journalist, all you have is your name and reputation, so you must never burn a source for a story… I’ve always made it a point to act honestly.”
Ms McClymont believes that building trust with sources requires more than a phone call.
“It’s so much more worthwhile meeting people and talking to them,” she said. “It’s hard for people to be brutal with you when they’ve gone out of their way to meet you.”
On the subject of making mistakes, she believes that honesty is the best policy. “You have to be honest, don’t blame anyone else,” she said.
For a different perspective, Deb Price, a lion tamer and zookeeper from Taronga Zoo, shared her experience of building trust with animals, emphasising the importance of examining body language.
“Body language is imperative; animals don’t respond well to unpredictable gestures,” she said.
“Animals all have different personalities; you need to work out what their likes and dislikes are.”