The Importance of Trust, Credibility and Influence for Communications Professionals

Terry Hemeyer Driving Change and Influencing Organizations

During his recent talk to communicators involved with the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Houston, Terry Hemeyer reviewed the current PR and marketing landscape set against the intersection of business and digital communications. He outlined important tips for building credibility and establishing trust in business, staying up-to-date on current media influence, and how to communicate effectively to executive leadership as a PR practitioner.

Pierpont Executive Counsel Terry Hemeyer focused his presentation on the varying roles and decision-making power of PR practitioners and communications professionals in business. Reflecting on his decades of experience, he highlighted the importance of thoughtfulness and patience in building trust and confidence in business to be able to execute a job effectively. Hemeyer outlined how any type of communications professional, from PR to advertising, can build influence in their organization to “get a seat at the table.”

He talked about the current state of the communications and business industry, spotlighting misinformation, controlling messages, and the influence of social media and the news. He spoke about PR and communications professionals’ ability to assess whether their work is valued in an organization and with executive leadership.

Hemeyer underscored that the PR industry is a field with its own unique pressures and stresses, and said that it takes time to gain credibility, trust and the necessary ability to work with different types of people and personalities.

“I think it’s important in our business, because we’re under pressure, if you cannot take the pressure, you should not be in this business… Crises do not happen between eight and five,” Hemeyer explained. “I always try to have a can-do attitude… My other credo in life is to never give up. I don’t give up.”

Hemeyer discussed the issue of many communications professionals having too narrow of a focus, rather than a well-rounded background and knowledge of the many facets of communications and operations in an organization. He urged communications experts to combat this by volunteering for key company projects outside of PR and marketing, taking courses to learn more about your business, and making sure attention is paid to all functions of the company. He also emphasized the importance of a PR practitioners’ ability to be a calming presence and a voice of reason in business.

“Everything you do should focus on what the organization needs, not what is nice to have and what everybody is telling you will win awards,” Hemeyer said. “You have to earn trust, and one way to do that is to always have a positive, calm attitude. Always be helpful to people.”

Hemeyer concluded the webinar, moderated by Pierpont Senior Account Executive and IABC Houston President Lauren Blalock, by answering questions from attendees. He spoke about how to build relationships with “winners” higher up in your organization as a young professional, how to navigate crises among executives, the ins and outs of building trust with the media, and best practices for time management in PR and business.

IABC Houston is a nonprofit part of a global network of 6,000 business communication professionals in more than 70 countries. The Houston chapter hosts a luncheon (currently virtual webinar) each month to improve personal and professional growth through strategic communications and brand development. Pierpont is a Diamond Sponsor of the chapter and you can learn more about membership and programming online.

Hemeyer has over 40 years of branding and communications experience, from advising two U.S. presidents to working in top management in several high-profile companies. He also teaches public relations and communications at the University of Texas at Austin and in Rice University’s MBA program.

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