Consumers don't even trust consumers anymore

Very interesting article from AdAge today on the results of Edelman's recently released Trust Barometer. According to Edelman consumer trust has dropped significantly in the 2009, with trust among friends and peers falling from 45% in 2008 to 25% in 2009. When asked about a "person like yourself", namely a blogger, or average people in testemonials, the percentages from from 45% to 39%. Interestingly though, consumer trust in CEO's had a year over year increase from 17 - 26%.

According to AdAge, "People have caught on to the fact marketers are increasingly behind that influential blog post or tweet. Despite regulations regarding disclosure of marketer-driven efforts, consumers may feel that whatever it is these people are receiving from companies positively influences their endorsements."

What does this mean to those of us who use digital media as a marketing communications tool? Has our field gotten the better of us where we are no longer able to rely on WOM from bloggers?

Perhaps one solution to this situation is to pull an idea from "The Great Schlep", the highly successful social media campaign starring Sara Silverman, and look instead to target those who influence our decision makers. \

WOM continues to be a strong tool, but it is necessary for marketers to remain nimble when crafting a campaign and look to not only the end consumer, but also to those who influence that consumer. Look to the children, grandchildren, co-workers, etc... as an additional tool for reaching your demographic.

Most importantly, be honest with your consumers. In this day and age if there is something that can come out and bite you it will.Toyota found that out the hard way, learn from their mistakes.

Establish trust on all levels and you'll be building the foundation for generations of brand loyal consumers.

New York Times Website May Charge: Will You Pay? [Mashable POLL]

Really NYT?  Are we really doing this again? People are not only accustomed to free news content, they expect it.  Unless you have a very defined niche (see WSJ) pay for news doesn't work.  Any news organization that will be competing with the NYTimes will see an instant increase in online readership when/if the NYT goes forward with a pay plan. I understand that the revenue from online ad sales do and will not make up for the loss of revenue from traditional print advertising.  Print publications need to look towards the expanding possibilities presented by e-readers.  CES this year featured a nearly endless supply of new readers from traditional emerging tech companies such as Aesus to entrenched traditional companies such as Barnes and Noble (with an new/update to the Nook).

People expect for the news to be free, that's not about to change.  However, people are willing to pay for a service that will make accessing that news easier.  A news outlet would be able to charge individuals to have items constantly updated on a reader, especially if it has the opportunity to present itself in a traditional format.

New York Times Website May Charge: Will You Pay? [POLL]

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Hyperlocal News? As long as it's professional. has a wonderful piece on the emergence of "hyperlocal" news organizations. Thinking about the rise of focused, local news organizations certainly makes me happy, much like thinking about the farmers market at Grand Army Plaza makes me hungry. Certainly this can be a great boon to not only local news outlets (which, lets be honest, need it), but also to general knowledge around the world. The advent of wiki's and truly mobile computing (Blackberry, iPhone, etc...) has turned everyone into a expert on everything. Many years ago when I was graduating from high school my guidance council had some trouble giving me a good recommendation for college because I was a "renaissance man" in his mind. I knew a lot about a whole lot of things, but I had no real advantage in any field. Wiki's have compunded this problem into an international issue, with a general knowledge of almost everything made available at the push of a button (at a recent night out we used Wikipedia to remember the villains from several Hanna Barbera cartoons). Of course the problem with this knowledge is that it's never completely trustworthy. Wikipedia and the like can be edited by anyone with internet access, and has been shown as a result to be easy to tamper with. History is certainly written by the winners, but facts are facts and should remain so. This is why it is still inadmissible to use a wiki as a source in a publishable paper of any kind.

So what exactly am I getting at here? While I'm excited about the possibility of an increase in hyperlocal news organizations such as Id' like to echo the sentiments of Jane McDonnell, the executive director of the Online News Association. "...there's less journalistic oversight over what is being disseminated and distributed and created." So basically news outlets will turn into wiki's. This is the danger that these hyperlocal outlets create. Journalists go through school and training to prevent (or at least try to) the distribution of un-sourced, unreliable news. My greatest fear is that these organizations will reduce newspapers to wiki's (and who will kids quote in school papers then?).

Personally, I like aggregators like Everyblock. Sourcing established news outlets (both local and national) as well as government agencies (again, both local and national), seems to be the best and most reliable way to generate hyperlocal news. Of course that's just what I think. In the end, I fear, that this will be decided by money and if hyperlocal news organizations are the wave of the future, I can only hope that they are well staffed and well trained.