Is Credibility Credible?

I was looking over the six characteristics that make a message “sticky” and again I questioned the importance of credibility in terms of appealing to an audience of my age or younger. It was interesting to notice in class that many of us had difficulty finding examples of messages that used the idea of credibility to get an audience’s attention. I think that fact says something about the changing audience that we as public relations practitioners should take notice of. Being young college students, we are on the cusp of an upcoming generation that seems to care more for humor and unexpectedness than the credibility of a message. I feel like one of the reasons less importance is placed on credibility is that many people find it hard to trust the so-called credible source giving the message. Audiences today put more faith in the reviews or opinions of friends and family or other consumers that have had experience with a certain product or service. It seems to me that of the six characteristics of message stickiness, credibility is becoming the least effective or least important.

All of this thought has led me to the decision to rate the six characteristics in order of effectiveness from most effective to least effective (as I see it for emerging audiences today). I even went so far as to ask several of my friends and family which characteristics appealed to them the most. The following list is what resulted.

1. Unexpectedness

2. Stories

3. Simplicity

4. Emotions

5. Concreteness

6. Credibility

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3 Responses to Is Credibility Credible?

  1. nyancatopher says:

    I think one of the reasons why credibility is becoming less important is because of how advanced mass media is, especially the rise of social media. Back in the day, there weren’t that many outlets for information. In today’s world, you get information coming from everywhere, most of it being junk, and because of that, nobody really knows what’s reliable. Most of us get most of our information from the internet. We all know how reliable that can be (sarcasm). Therefore, we don’t really believe anything we hear anymore, so as far as credibility goes, it relies on whether the individual chooses to believe it.

  2. Keri Cerda says:

    I think what has happened is that people caught on that credibility was important probably a few decades ago. And they abused it. They tried to make their messages more credible, even if that involved some misleading information. Eventually there was probably conflicting or contradictory “credible” information and that got peoples attention so the credibility factor dropped significantly, as did everyone’s trust of so-called credible sources.
    I don’t that credibility is unimportant, but it isn’t particularly interesting and if you only have so much time to get someone interested it’s not what you start with. I think that to be successful a message needs to get the desired audiences attention, like with something unexpected, but then be able to back it up with credibility once the person is already hooked, such as with facts or research on a linked website or something of that nature.

  3. This was an interesting post to read! It’s a great point that credibility is consistently being pushed to the back burner in terms of importance. I agree that an overload of information (therefore diminishing credibility in general) has watered down the impact validity or credibility has.
    However beautiful a thing Google is, it blankets research with convenience, ease and speed,numbing us to the reality (or care) of what is credible and what is not.
    Additionally, this overload of information reinforces the need for uniqueness and unexpectedness. That factor tends to take priority just to ensure a message will even be seen.

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