Building and Maintaining Public Trust in Good Times and Bad

December 08, 2022 by Maggie Kolb

Building and Maintaining Public Trust in Good Times and Bad

In the public sector, building and maintaining public trust is important during good times and becomes vital when issues arise. But the important work of building and maintaining trust begins long before an issue comes up in the community. Building trust is an ongoing journey that can always be improved.

What you can do to build trust now:

  • Create trust through consistent, predictable communication.
  • Guide community members to where they can seek information and where they can ask questions. Is there a place on your website where you will post updates? Which social media channels will you use? If so, let the community know where they can find information from you.
  • Share consistent messages across multiple channels to reach as broad of an audience as possible. Not all community members will use the same channels for communication. For example, some patrons may check the website, but not interact on social media. Others may exclusively look to Facebook or Twitter for official information.
  • Be sure to create systems to answer questions and provide important information to stakeholders. Get these systems set in place so the community knows what they can expect.
  • Find where your audience is already talking and join them. Look into community network sites such as Nextdoor or Facebook community groups to engage more effectively.
  • Seek to have your official municipal or government social media account verified to assure your community members of your authenticity. This can be accomplished by contacting customer support on most social media platforms.
  • Share positive, informative news to build both trust and your audience. Examples could include opportunities for tax subsidies, grants, or other programs in the community.

When an issue arises:

  • Continue to use the pre-established means of communicating with the stakeholders. Use the systems in place to answer questions.
  • Be consistent with your communication. Timely and regular communication builds trust.
  • Make sure the information you have available on the website is relevant and easy to find.
  • Consider a virtual town hall platform, mass communication system, or mobile app to be able to connect and communicate directly with your community.

After an issue is resolved:

  • Find a way to gain feedback from your stakeholders (community, staff, elected officials, emergency personnel, etc.) Gain input through surveys, small group meetings, or interviews to determine what went well and what could have been improved.
  • Put into place any updated systems identified through the debriefing. Communicate these changes to your community.
  • Consider installing an online monitoring service to track online activity, conversations, and sentiment.

Related Content