The Trust Fall: Edelman’s Trust Barometer

It’s that time of the year again – the time of year when we, as communicators and businesses, get the sad sigh of reading Edelman’s Trust Barometer. We just want that warm feeling that we’re making a difference. But, at least we have room to grow (it’s a half-full day).

If you haven’t seen, Edelman released their annual Trust Barometer this week and the numbers aren’t so wonderful for U.S. businesses and institutions. Actually, the United States ranked near the bottom of 23 countries in terms of trust in major institutions.

We trust less, or maybe we’re just not paying attention. Based on Edelman’s report, more than 70%  of people need to be exposed to a message more than three times to accept it as true. In the U.S., 14% need to hear or see information about a company more than 10 times before they believe it. In our multitasking, technology consumed culture (yes, I’m guilty of it too), it not only takes more time and energy to get us to focus and listen. Additionally, our trust has moved online and away from traditional media. Today, nearly 30% of those surveyed went to search engines first and trust that they will find the information they need. So, this leads me to believe that we want the specific information we’re seeking, but when it’s in front of us and we are focused – we’ll trust and believe the source.

CEOs rise and shine. This year’s report also shined light on the important role that our business leaders play in building and maintaining trust. With the rise of social media, CEOs have the ability to engage with consumers and constituents on a human, interpersonal level. By building a foundation of trust, these companies are more likely to be resilient in times of crisis, than those that don’t.

Richard Edelman‘s quote holds true, “Trust is the filter through which information is heard and understood. Under the older trust framework, good news was a tool for building trust. Today, trust is a prerequisite for good news to be believed.”

Our world and the consumers we trust expect companies to lead, to be honest and to contribute to the global community they live and work in. To me, this is the root of CSR and to build trust – we need to look at our organizations from the inside out. Instead of talking to our customers, we need to adopt a customer-centric model where we listen to,  learn from and build a relationship with the people we serve.

As a side note, I love the design and format of the report findings. Check it out here. Nice easy access to the information, slide decks and videos. It’s a great way to present an integrated multimedia newsroom. Nice work!

What are your thoughts on Edelman’s Trust Barometer? Do you have a new year’s trust resolution you’re working on?

Posted on January 28, 2011, in Corp Comms, Leadership/Management, Marketing, Public Relations, social media, Web/Tech and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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