To me, the 2011 Edelman Trust Barometer is a wake up call for PR pros about what we should be focusing on in order to enhance client reputation and relevancy. The Trust Barometer is an annual report from PR firm Edelman that surveys attitudes around trust and influence in business, government, non-governmental agencies and media, internationally.
First off, the perception of US business around the world and here at home stinks. Only 46% of the survey’s responders trust US business to do what is right. The miserable behavior of certain industries (cough – banking – cough – financial services – cough cough) over the last few years have created a negative ripple effect over the entire country. Building trust for your clients remains a priority over the next few years.
However, don’t rely strictly on great press placement to affect that change. The media is at the bottom of the trust barrel right now with a lousy 27% of responders trusting US media to do what is right. British media is even worse at 22%. Of course, with those inane headlines that’s no surprise. Better amp up your social media game so you can get your message out on other platforms and engage with your customer directly. Your terrific story in Time magazine may not have as much influence on their loyalty as an honest interaction on Twitter. And if you represent media clients, think carefully about how they are going to grow trust through social media and face to face engagement. Clearly their own outlets aren’t going to get the job fully done.
As I wrote in last week’s post about business trends as noted by the Harvard Business Review, the public is looking for companies to focus on what is right for the social good, before profits. As the Edelman report writes – expectations are high for business to invest in society. Can you help your client figure out the best path for that and how that will be communicated effectively?
Speaking of communicating effectively, your CEO may no longer be your best spokesperson. Trust in CEOs rose from 31% to 50%, an improvement but still not great. Perhaps it would be better to find experts within the company to speak directly on their areas of expertise. Experts within a company had a 64% credibility as compared to the CEO’s 50%.
Hopefully you have a fully engaged SEO program for your client’s social media and web efforts since, not surprisingly, online search engines ranked number 1 as people’s “go to” source for news. Determining keywords, developing a strategy for how those will get implemented in all online communications and then executing that plan is the best way to grow search results organically. This is a PR function since it is all tied into online messaging and content and is less about linking strategy.
Many thanks to the folks at Edelman for this annual report. I read it every year and take its findings seriously.