People are suspicious creatures, and will jump on anything that makes a brand appear untrustworthy. Take, for example, Wal-Mart's fake blog of last year, and its efforts to infiltrate its comments into the blogosphere (here). Dishonesty is a dangerous thing when almost anyone can now jump online and become a reporter. Honesty that is becoming the key to success in PR. And look at the success of those brands which market themselves on this value, for example Dove's 'real beauty' campaign.
Have a look at this recent article on Culturefeed. Here's an excerpt:
"As consumers become more aware of the messages targeted at them, they are increasingly searching for ways to regain control of their lives and their minds by downsizing and through a do-it-yourself culture. The question is, how will your brand communicate to these new consumers? How can you market without marketing? How can you help people simplify their lives, while maintaing loyalty to your brand?"
Consumers want control and are increasingly sceptical about marketing messages. The answer, as I see it, is honesty. Not just in the stories you present about your clients or the way you present them, but in offering the consumer something of value, whether it be a product, insight, experience, or relationship.
This applies across the board: if we expect people to interact with our brands, whether they are consumers, journalists or investors, we will be infinitely more successful if we can offer something of real value, a message, experience or story they choose to interact with.
I'm not sure this is such a recent trend, either. Just one which is being execerbated by social media. And as far as I can see, it's a real opportunity to improve the quality of our work and carry on coming up with worthwhile, creative strategies and ideas for clients. Is this new, or has it always been the mark of good PR?