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Who can turn the world on with their smile?

Posted by Sarah Mitchell on 3rd March , 2021 in The Write Fit
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This is an excerpt from the 38th edition of The Write Fit, a fortnightly newsletter about writing, editing and proofreading, content marketing and good editorial practices for business, from Sarah Mitchell and Dan Hatch at Typeset.

 

When I was a kid, I used to hang out for Saturday night TV. It was a comedy line-up unrivaled by anything since and included classics like All in the Family, Mash, The Bob Newhart Show and The Carol Burnett Show. (Yes, I know I’m dating myself. What can you do?)

My favourite, by a wide margin, was The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

I idolized Mary Richards. She was a single woman supporting herself as a journalist. She had the best clothes, a cool car, and a fabulous studio apartment where she lived alone. She was surrounded by a motley crew of colleagues who were all trying hard to be good journalists, even if they worked at the lowest-rated TV station in their market.

She was doing important work and leading an interesting life – what more could a young girl want?

Thanks a lot, President Nixon

I didn’t end up pursuing a career in journalism. By the time I was finishing high school I’d figured out journalists didn’t make much money. Plus, the job market was flooded thanks to the sensational Watergate investigation by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. There were no jobs for people like me, so I took a detour.

Fast-forward to 2021 and it looks like my dream is back on the cards if you believe the latest Edelman Trust Barometer report. It’s good news for me and for all business communicators who toil behind the scenes to produce company news.

According to Edelman, my old pal Mary Richards’ smile wouldn’t cut it anymore. We don’t trust traditional media, we don’t trust government, we don’t trust spokespeople (sorry influencers!), we don’t trust social media, and we don’t trust CEOs.

We do, however, trust more than any other source the news our own employers publish.

Let that sink in for a minute.

You can have the town; why don’t you take it?

That means the work we’re doing, especially internal communications, is taking on new importance. Edelman says “business gains the most trust by being a guardian of information quality”. The reports lays out a new mandate for business to help restore trust across society including:

  • Lead with facts, but act with empathy.
  • Provide truthful, unbiased, reliable information.

The opportunity is ours for the taking. We can win the trust of readers simply by being truthful and putting a little compassion behind our content. It makes me want to throw my beret in the air in solidarity with my old hero Mary.

I’m up for the job. How about you? (And, no, you don’t have to twirl in a crowded intersection to show your support.)

Sarah Mitchell
3 March 2021

 

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