Trust and confidence. Two words which will come to define how quickly the business events sector heals, and renews, as it begins the long-awaited journey to recovery following the pandemic. A recovery in which the news media will play a critical role.

The relationship we have with our various audiences; clients, customers, partners, suppliers and stakeholders is entirely built on trust and confidence. In fact, trust is now second only to price when deciding whether to buy a product or service. Today, despite the understandable power and influence of social media, trusted news sources have never been more important, or influential, in creating that trust and building confidence.

During the past year the pandemic has seen the public, and business sectors, heading back to more trusted news sources. More people than ever are paying for news from leading media organisations, according to this year’s Digital News Report from Oxford’s Reuters Institute. The Institute found that during the pandemic there was a major increase in all age groups watching TV news, as people sought more reliable information. This has also been true across the events community, as we have all pursued more dependable material on which we can base informed business decisions.

The report also found that during the peak of the pandemic, trust in traditional news outlets was running at more than twice that of social media. In fact, 40% of people surveyed said that they considered news obtained via social media platforms, video sites and messaging apps, as untrustworthy. It’s obvious to me, as someone who is a huge consumer of news as well as a contributor to it, that despite the abundance of widely available alternatives, authentic, real, honest journalism, truly does matter, makes a difference, is valued and is now in demand again, after years of decline.

As a former journalist, I have a very personal connection with both the profession and the craft. Journalism is a noble art. An honourable one, in fact. One in which many notable names have begun illustrious careers, including Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling, Sir Winston Churchill and even Boris Johnson, although the less said about his journalistic reputation the better.

In a world where we can all access literally millions of items of news and opinion across a wealth of topics in seconds, for free, honest, reliable journalism is not just important, it’s fundamental to the rebuilding and renewal of our shattered industry and society. Earned media, as we refer to it, has always been regarded as the most trusted platform for content. Trust cannot be bought, it must be earned, through the building and sharing, over time, of content and opinion that is truthful, fair, well researched and ethical. This is where you are able to take time to align the values of your brand, to that of your audience. Journalists have an important role to play in both creating and delivering trusted content, but also curating and scrutinising third party content. In the era of ‘fake news’ it’s more important than ever to ensure that the UK retains its reputation, despite that of the red tops, of having an open and honest press. That is not just the overriding symbol of a free democracy, it’s also good for society as a whole. Today’s consumers want to tackle broader communal issues, such as health inequality, diversity, climate change and societal conflict. They look to the media for consistent, authentic well-researched content that helps shape opinion on what matters to them the most.

Our audiences are slowly emerging from the last few months with a renewed enthusiasm for trusted news. They know it matters and that it can inform their decisions. They have also realised that they want to contribute, to improve themselves and their industry and community, not just be an observer. As a result, they expect the brands they look to work with to do the same. To take a leadership role that leads to positive change. This is what will ultimately build trust and confidence.

In a report on destination marketing, which we are due to publish on 24th March, and produced in partnership with ibtm, 67% of convention bureaux and destination marketing organisations said they would be using PR and media relations to reconnect with their audiences as part of their programme of recovery, second only to social media.

The pandemic has reminded all of us of the value of good honest journalism. It is something we should be grateful for, but also something we should continue to encourage. We all have a responsibility to support our independent news media. The creativity of journalism has never been stronger, its purpose never more important.

Here at davies tanner, our team is committed to working closely with journalists from across the entire media community, and supporting them through providing trusted, relevant and honest news and content, and we feel privileged to see those stories having a real, positive impact on the communities we serve.