“It has been a catastrophic year for business, well beyond the evident destruction in shareholder value and need for emergency government funding.” — Richard Edelman
Edelman released its annual “Trust Barometer” this week and like most numbers coming out of the business world it’s not pretty. But there is a speck of good news, for PR pros at least, buried within in the mound of data.
Trust in business and chief executives has eroded to levels below the immediate wake of the Enron and dot-com busts and more than three-quarters of consumers say they won’t buy products from a company they don’t trust. Sectors like automobiles, banking and insurance are now at the cellar of business trust, after sitting near the top last year, Edelman pointed out. Trust in every sector of the business world measured in the PR firm’s wide-ranging survey declined in the U.S.
But PR professionals should raise an optimistic eyebrow at a key finding in Edelman’s research. At the top of the list of attributes people look for in companies, quality and treatment of employees led the charge. But next is trust, which tied for public fervor with “communicates frequently and honestly on the state of its business.”
Frequent and honest communication equaled trust in the public eye and ranked above job creation, finances, community relations, environmental commitment, innovation and (also notable for PR pros) transparency in companies. That’s a significant vote of confidence in good PR and one of the few bright spots in the survey.
It's also worth pointing out that with the public's ardor for biz plummeting, whom do we trust? Media? Government?
According to Edelman, NGOs are getting the most love in every region of the world except Asia-Pacific, where such groups are nonetheless on the rise in the public’s eye.
Edelman polled more than four thousand people across 20 countries for the 10th installment of its trust gauge.