Edelman Trust Barometer 2013

Edelman’s 2013 Trust Barometer will be launching on Tuesday 22nd January on the eve of the World Economic Forum in Davos. Now in its thirteenth year, the Barometer explores rising and falling levels of trust across twenty-six markets, and 35,000 people; considering different industry sectors; as well as the impact and perception of government, business, media and society.

With further names to be announced, we are thrilled to be joined by a stellar line-up of guests who will discuss the challenges facing global leadership:

• Robert Shrimsley, Managing Editor, FT.com

• Professor Sarah Churchwell, Commentator and Academic

• Dame Helen Ghosh, Director-General, The National Trust

If you are interested in attending, or would like more information about the Trust Barometer, please contact edelmanuk@edelman.com.

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Building Trust From the Inside Out: Engaging Employees As the New Influencers

Christopher Hannegan

This post was originally published on the Edelman Trust Barometer blog.

Trust is an essential component of any organization’s license to operate and lead. Yet the global results of our 2012 Trust Barometer trust and credibility survey show the state of trust in a high degree of disarray. Further analysis conducted this year for the first time also shows a trust disconnect within organizations, with executives and employees painting very different pictures of where they place their trust. However, there are some bright spots in this year’s global Trust data, and ones that have profound implications on how organizations build reputation, regain trust and engage effectively with key stakeholders, all by putting employees at the center of their strategies.

Select Trust Study Highlights and Implications for Engaging Employees
  • The rise in credibility of regular employees was the greatest increase since 2004. This is among the single most important finding from this year’s study and one that should serve as a wake-up call to leaders and communicators. Now, more than ever, companies should be looking for ways to activate their employees and connect them with customers and the community via ambassador programs, featuring them in media and advertising content, and engaging them more deeply in product innovation and problem solving.
  • The fall in CEO credibility was one of the biggest drops in Trust Barometer history. However, do not jump to the conclusion that CEOs are now less relevant. The learnings here are to not rely on your CEO to be the only face of your organization, in particular during times of crisis, and to use the insights from this year’s Trust study to enhance overall CEO credibility.
  • A trust disconnect between executives and regular employees exists within organizations, but there is at least one point on which they can agree: the credibility of technical experts within a company. This has important implications during times of crisis — featuring clearly-identified technical experts in internal and external communications will go a long way in shoring up trust when things have gone (or are about to go) wrong.
Emerging Opportunities

In looking at nearly all of the 16 attributes that build trust globally, employees affect virtually every one —indicating that corporate values, practices and overall culture have a significant impact on a company’s trustworthiness. Companies should consider the following opportunities immediately:

Empower your employees to be ambassadors via social media. Given that both employees and social media are growing in credibility, there is a clear opportunity to bring the two together to create employee ambassadors — that is, people who talk about the company online in a quasi-official capacity. Similarly, the fall in CEO credibility makes it more important than ever to prepare employees to advocate on an organization’s behalf.

Engage employees in building customer relationships. Executives and regular employees alike point to quality products/services and listening to customer needs/feedback as the top two attributes that drive trust in a company. Since employees heavily influence both, building a sense of shared ownership for the company’s products and customer responsiveness can lend credibility to improvement efforts.

Rebuild trust in the CEO through candid, meaningful dialogue. Many CEOs would do well to increase their connection to their workforces in ways that play to their personal strengths. There are a number of actions CEOs can take to maintain and rebuild trust with employees, such as communicating a clear and compelling vision, taking a conversational tone of voice, encouraging a culture of storytelling, engaging managers and employees in candid dialogue about the business, and demonstrating transparency, especially in the face of challenging issues.

This year’s Trust data is the loudest call to action yet for companies to better engage employees and address specific credibility issues to build trust from the inside out. Read our white paper with detailed findings and observations based on this year’s Trust Barometer results:
Building Trust from the Inside Out: Engaging Employees as the New Influencers

Image credit: dgray_xplane

Written by Christopher Hannegan

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What the 2012 Edelman Trust Barometer Means for Purpose

Carol Cone

This post was originally published on the goodpurpose blog, powered by Edelman.

From the Euro debt crisis to unrest in the Middle East, raging unemployment around the globe and the Occupy movement, it’s no secret that the world is facing some stiff challenges these days.

And yet, government and businesses, the very institutions that have traditionally been looked to for leadership in times of uncertainty, are experiencing their own crisis of sorts — a crisis of trust.

Edelman’s recently-released 2012 Trust Barometer, our 12th annual look at global trust and credibility, underscores just how far these institutions have fallen out of favor with the public. Not only is the government the least trusted institution (trailing business, media and NGOs), nearly one half of survey respondents do not believe government regulates businesses enough.

Even more telling: The most credible spokesperson after an academic and technical expert is now a “person like me” followed by the employee. CEOs are now second to last.

So the burning question today is: How can businesses and their leaders regain the public’s trust?

To begin, many of the actions that stakeholders want most from government — “more consumer protec­tion” and “regulation ensuring responsible corporate behavior” — are tasks that businesses can handle on their own.

But, just executing on these reactive items will not be enough. Rather than merely exercising their “license to operate,” as they have done for years, leading brands and organizations must move beyond the “don’t be evil” mentality As Richard Edelman explains: “It makes good business sense for business to broaden its definition of leadership. They must now earn their “license to lead.” It cannot be seen as acting solely in self interest, but rather executing on the fundamentals of profit and societal good.” In other words: profit needs to be joined with Purpose.

Not simply CSR, cause marketing or altruism, a company’s Purpose goes further; it’s a strategy for profit and growth based on improving people’s lives.

To further illustrate this this shift from profits to profits + Purpose: the 2012 Trust Barometer finds that, out of the 16 factors shaping trust, those factors that will build future trust are centered around a company’s purpose (see the graphic below).

License to Lead

Note how profit-driven operational attributes, like “innovators of new products” and “delivers consistent financial returns,” that are responsible for current trust levels actually fell to the bottom of the rankings. In their place: societal factors like “listening to customer needs”, “treating employees well,” and “placing customers ahead of profits.” These factors — the human element – are considered more important to building future trust than those that deliver  on operational imperatives.

Consumers couldn’t be sending a clearer message to companies: by putting your company’s Purpose, or values, in action through a variety of engagements ranging from materiality and CSR to cause branding and ngo support, companies can build sustainable competitive advantage that will unite and motivate all the people you touch, from skeptical consumers to reticent employees.

Building Goodwill into the Business Lifecycle

How does this look in the real world? Standout examples include IBM’s Smarter Planet initiative and Levi’s*, which built their core purpose of environmental sustainability into their entire product lifecyle. From where they source their cotton to their clothing care tags that aim to divert billions of unwanted garments from landfills to Goodwill, Levi’s is perfect example of a company that has integrated its Purpose journey in a truly impactful way.

Another pace-setter is Starbucks*. With their three-tiered approach — Planet (sourcing fair trade coffee and environmental stewardship), people (policies they have for their baristas), community (their various social engagements) — the company demonstrates that purpose and profits can and do go hand-in-hand. Add CEO Howard Shultz’s non-coffee commitments to creating jobs and fighting political dysfunction in Washington, and it’s no wonder Shultz was selected as Fortune’s 2011 Businessperson of the Year.

Unilever CEO Paul Polman* recently questioned whether capitalism had reached its expiration date.

So, how do we build future trust? By starting now, with Purpose.

*Levi’s, Starbucks and Unilever are Edelman clients.

Image credit: Thorinside

Written by Carol Cone

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Trust in Government Plummets Worldwide

The invaluable Edelman Trust Barometer released Jan. 23 documents the massive disconnect people worldwide have with government. Trust in government charted the biggest decline in the 11-year history of the Barometer. Credibility of a government official or regulator dipped from 43 percent in 2011’s survey to 29 percent, which ranks on the bottom of the list, below CEOs (38 percent) and financial/industry analysts (46 percent).

Richard Edelman
Richard Edelman

The Edelman survey of 25,000 people in 25 countries found that while two-thirds of respondents expect government leaders to listen to “citizens’ needs and feedback” only 17 percent feel that their gripes are heard. A mere 19 percent of respondents say government “effectively manages the financial affairs of the country,” and 16 percent say leadership “communicates frequently and honestly.”

Despite the trust deficit gap, people support governmental regulation of business Only four percent say “government should not play a role in business.” Thirty-one percent believe government “should protect consumers from irresponsible business practices” and 25 percent want regulators to “ensure companies are behaving responsibly.”

On a nation-by-nation breakout, 77 percent of Chinese believe government “does not regulate business enough.” That’s followed by Spain (70 percent), Mexico (68 percent), Ireland (64 percent) and Hong Kong (61 percent). The U.S. weighs in at 40 percent. Singapore, Japan, United Arab Emirates, Poland and Netherlands are the five nations rounding out the list.

A big surprise: media is the only institution (government, business, non-governmental organizations) measured by Edelman to show a rise in trust. The biggest gains were made in India (+20 points), U.S. (+18), U.K. (+15) and Italy (+12).

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Why Your Company Needs to Structure Properly for Social Media… Right Now

Yesterday morning in London, Richard Edelman unveiled the 2012 Edelman Trust Barometer. It’s the twelfth year that we’ve conducted the study, which tries to answer the seemingly simple question: “Who do you trust?”

One thing is clear from this year’s research: It isn’t your CEO.

Globally, only 38% of informed publics think CEOs are credible spokespeople. That’s down from 50% last year.

On the other hand, trust in a ‘Regular employee’ showed a dramatic rise from 34% last year, to 50% this year. ‘Regular employee’ trailed only academic, technical experts in the company, and person like yourself as the most credible spokesperson your business could put forward. You can view all of this data on slide 21 our global trust presentation.

We’ve been talking about social business here and elsewhere for a while, but for me, no single piece of data has made a more compelling case for social business.

In a world where employees, whether technical experts or regular folks, are a company’s most credible spokespeople, every business simply must understand how to organize and empower employees to interact successfully in social media.

We have some practical thoughts what this means and how to make it happen, but the bottom line is that it’s time to expand social thinking from brand marketing and communications to the whole enterprise. That won’t happen overnight, but as the Trust Barometer shows, it’s important that the journey begin.


Edelman’s London office is hosting a panel discussion on Social Business on the 14th of February. The event will be held at 105 Victoria Street London , SW1E 6QT, 8:30-10:30am.

You can register and find more details here.

Image credit: Lars Plougmann

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