Google is the most trusted source for UK company information according to Edelman’s 2011 Trust Barometer.

Basically, a search engine that applies no editorial filter to its results – as far as I am aware – is more trusted than the BBC and all of our quality papers.

For me this is further proof – if it were needed – that public relations has undergone a fundamental shift from a broadcast model (taking a client’s message to the media) to a conversational model (creating compelling conversations that encourage participation and action).

Ironically, the humble press release’s cause has probably been strengthened though its role has completely changed. No longer is it the genus of a story, the means to get quality coverage, its primary remit now is to get the Google juice flowing, to push a story up the page rankings.

This means however that the forum or channel for that story becomes secondary. What on-line publication or channel carries the story is less important to its Google ranking. We all think that coverage in the FT, The Sun or The Economist will have the most amount of impact for a client, but in actuality, a lesser known website with better search rankings is likely to be of more benefit.

This change in audience trust and perception also means that PROs of a certain age need forget a lot of what they know, or at least realise that they need to know more. Media relations is still massively important, but it’s a composite skill that needs to sit alongside experience of and excellence in community management, influencer engagement, above the line marketing, branding and creative design, promotions and sponsorships and other broader marcomms skills.

I’ve said it before (and often) that PR has the chance to become the central hub of the broader marketing mix. We have the opportunity to become the creative lead for clients from which hang all other marketing activities. Considering PR is often the last in line when budgets are allocated, this presents a significant opportunity to broaden our experiences and skill sets and really take public relations into a new position of leadership not to mention revenues.

As the trust results show, the public is slowly warming to companies and individuals. Some industries have a lot of work to do (bankers, I’m looking at you) but by and large, trust is returning. Old skool PR does not speak to this new environment. Times are changing, so should we.

For more information on Edelman’s 2011 Trust Barometer please take a look here – http://bit.ly/hI1Qxw. 

@pazman1973