A month ago, General Mills, makers of Cheerios, donated over $1,000,000 to defeat California Proposition 37. Prop 37 was a ballot initiative asking food companies to label their products, which would let consumers know what's in the food they eat.
Shortly afterward, Cheerios released an “app” via Facebook that allowed fans to create a graphic with a word or two about their feelings toward Cheerios. You know, all those great memories we have of eating Cheerios...
But that wasn't what happened...
Images with words like GMOs in a Box, DNA Damage, and Cancerous went up on Cheerios' Facebook wall so fast, the admins of the page couldn't delete them fast enough. That's when the entire promotion was pulled.
Cheerios has been around since 1941. For years, it has been marketed as a healthy breakfast option, with General Mills going so far as to claim, "You can Lower Your Cholesterol 4% in 6 weeks." One of its biggest advertising targets is kids.
What's the point of telling you this?
It takes a long time to build trust and only seconds to kill it. This goes for any business, but also people and organizations. For example, Penn State.
And Tiger Woods. And most recently, Lance Armstrong.
Loss of trust means loss of money. For Tiger Woods, that amount was $26,000,000 in endorsements and a $100,000,000 divorce payout.
So how do you keep trust among your fans, business associates, and sponsors?
Beyond "don't be stupid," here are two rules to follow...
1. Don't lie.
Tell the truth. It sounds obvious, but this kills music careers. And if you get caught doing something stupid, take responsibility. People will forgive mistakes quicker than you'll be able to build trust that is broken.
2. Do what you say you're going to do.
If you make a promise or say you're going to do something, back it up. For example, Tiger Woods keeping his marriage vows...
Again, this is "obvious" information, but how many times have you seen musicians (or others in the business) who don't follow these rules? For example, the band who, in order to get booked, tells a club owner they can bring in a lot of people. Or the club owner who tells a band "you'll get paid" and then leaves them with nothing.
By following these rules, you'll likely miss out on some opportunities, but you'll also develop (and strengthen) and reputation that will pay off in much greater ways.