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It’s Always been a Matter of Trust

June 15, 2011

The 2011 Edelman Trust Barometer provides some interesting insights into how consumer perception of a business affects their willingness to believe news and information about that business – put simply, they need to trust you to believe you.

This is hardly earth shattering news however what is interesting is the more subtle findings that could prove to be highly beneficial in the way external PR initiatives are shaped and delivered.

Edelman polled 5075 people in 23 countries on 5 continents. They were between 25-64, college-educated and in the top 25% of household income per age group in each country.

Perhaps not surprisingly, financial services, banks, insurance and media are the least trusted industries. On the other end of the scale, technology, automotive and telecommunications are the most trusted. In the case of automotive, this result comes despite the financial bail-out of the ‘Big 3’ in the US and numerous model recalls across the sector. Telecommunications must also be celebrating when you consider the amount of complaints registered against them.

Quality, honesty, trust and treatment of employees are all rate highly when it comes to corporate reputation, while returns to shareholders are the least important factor.

When it comes to the question of who to quote in a release or put in front of the wolves, an academic/expert (75%), technical expert within the company (64%), industry analyst (53%) and CEO (50%) rate as the most credible sources.

Online search engines have become the go-to for news with 29% rating that as their first source when it comes to news about a company, a little odd considering this method requires knowing what to search for. Online news sources comes in second place with 19%. News from the company’s website (11%) ranked just behind traditional media outlets of radio/TV (12%) and print (15%) suggesting that the importance of having an effective online newsroom is almost as important as traditional media outlets when it comes to corporate reputation.

Also surprising is that social media ranked last with only 5% saying they would use that as their first source of news.

One of the most significant findings is how profoundly trust protects reputation. When a company is distrusted, 57% will believe negative information while only 15% will believe positive information after hearing it 1-2 times.

Conversely, if the company is trusted, only 25% will believe negative information and 51% will believe positive information after hearing it 1-2 times.

Clearly consumers are more willing to have their opinions reinforced than they are to have them changed.

The full survey can be downloaded here.

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