Who do We Trust?

We launched the eighth Edelman Trust Barometer in London this morning. The presentation was made by Richard Edelman and UK CEO Stuart Smith. I thought it went really well, but I would say that I guess. As Ian Delaney, Stuart Bruce, Iain Dale (panelist) and Hugh McLeod were also there you may get a less biased perspective from them. There really is a huge amount of data as we have surveyed 18 countries this year. Again, we are making much of this public via Edelman.com (not up yet but will be soon I hope). We will be presenting this at Davos later this week and in all ten Edelman Europe markets over the next two weeks. Video footage of the presentations will be available here this afternoon or tomorrow latest. UK opinion formers by the way are now officially the least trusting in the world! For the UK take on this, look below or visit www.edelman.co.uk or www.edelman.com for the global release and social media release.

Key findings include:

1. UK shows declining levels of trust in traditional and new media. Nonetheless, articles in business magazines are the second most credible source of information (46%) after analyst reports (58%). They are followed closely by news coverage on the radio (45%) and on television (35%). Advertising is the least trusted information source (8%).
2. Most countries surveyed see global companies as having a more positive than negative impact on society – the exceptions are the UK and Germany.
3. In the UK, trust in companies headquartered in all countries included in last year’s study dropped significantly. This includes British trust in UK companies, which declined from 79% to 66%. Nonetheless, trust in UK companies still ranked highly, coming second after Swedish companies (68%).
4. Opinion leaders in the US believe they have a special relationship with UK companies, giving them a score of 74% – a higher level of trust than they have in their own companies (69%). When it comes to our view of US headquartered companies, we only give them a score of 31%.
5.The developing world puts more trust than the developed world in all institutions except NGOs. NGOs are equally trusted in the developed and developing world.
6. The developing world is more trusting of all sectors except healthcare (57% in developing world vs 63% in developed world).
7. Technology is the most trusted sector globally
8. In the UK, Technology (67%), Healthcare (62%) and Entertainment (57%) are the most trusted sectors, while Energy (34%), Insurance (27%) and Media (21%) are the least trusted.
9. Rank-and-file employees are more trusted than CEOs in both the United States and Europe.
10. A ‘person like yourself’ and a doctor/healthcare specialist are the most trusted people in the developed world (both 52%).
11. In the UK, the credibility of a ‘person like yourself’ is influenced by shared interests (72%), while same gender (7%), religion (6%) and race/ethnicity (2%) are far less important.
12. Britons are more likely than any other country to criticise companies they do not trust to people they know and to ignore distrusted companies’ attempts to communicate with them ng it the lowest rating.

NEW GLOBAL SURVEY SHOWS UK TRUST LEVELS AT A LOW

– Business most trusted institution
– CSR a key factor in building corporate trust

January 22, 2007, LONDON – The UK has topped the cynicism league according to the eighth annual Edelman Trust Barometer, a global survey of opinion leaders. The survey shows that the UK’s trust in government, business and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) has dropped dramatically in the last year.

Trust in government has tumbled by nearly half, from 33% last year to just 16% this year. However, governments across the world are facing similar challenges, as it is generally the least trusted institution, with 13 out of 18 countries giving it the lowest rating.

In the UK, business (44%) ranks as the most trusted institution ahead of NGOs (41%), religious institutions (27%; surveyed for the first time) and media (19%).

Richard Edelman, President and CEO of Edelman, said: “In every region, business is more trusted than either government or media. Business is seeing a rebound of trust because of strong economic growth, visible consequences for executive malfeasance, and success in solving problems facing society. Business has a clear opportunity to assume a leadership role on major issues, from climate change to privacy.”

Socially responsible activities rank as the most important factor in the UK for building trust in business. They also rank highly within organisations themselves: listening to employees (69%) and demonstrating corporate social responsibility (50%) are more important than communicating the company’s business strategy (42%) and financial performance (27%). British opinion leaders see global warming (77%) as the most important issue for companies to address.

Dr Stuart Smith, CEO Edelman London, commented: “The Trust Barometer gives new insights into how to deliver credible messages which build brands, giving insight into the most credible UK media and spokespeople. This year we have seen significant declines in trust across all sectors: business, NGOs, media and government. When compared with other countries we seem to be a national of sceptics. If companies want to build trust in the UK, then this survey demonstrates that they must engage with their audiences more effectively than ever before, using a range of traditional and new media.”

This year’s survey, which is being presented this week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, looks at the state and importance of trust, as well as how to communicate and to build trust.

The 2007 Edelman Barometer was fielded in October – November 2006. The study was a 30-minute telephone survey of opinion leaders (screened to be 35-64, have an annual household income within the top quartile for that country; college graduates; report being engaged in media, business, and public policy issues). WorldOne Research managed the fielding in the following countries:

– 400 interviews in the U.S.
– 300 interviews in China (Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou only)
– 150 interviews each in the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Poland, Russia, Ireland, Mexico, Brazil, Canada, Japan, South Korea, and India

The margin of error is ±4.9% for the European sample (UK/ France/ Germany).

The social media release can be found here:

http://www.edelman.com/news/storycrafter/default.aspx?hid=181

[tags]Edelman Public Relations, Davos07, Trust Study[/tags]

David Brain

13 Comments

  1. That would certainly be a dramatic turnaround from last year’s trust survey by the Davos Mafia and GlobeScan, which showed an “alarming decline” in trust in all three areas — government, “NGOs” (are we including QuaNGOs, GONGOs and Edelman-style “astroturf” organizations in that category, by the way?) and multinational businesses — around the world.

    How DO you Edelman folks do that voodoo that you do so well?

    I would like to know, however, how you generalize from 3,100 “opinion leaders” to general public opinion “around the globe,” as the title of your press release seems to suggest.

    The disconnect between the two results, assuming the GlobeScan results hold this year, would seem to suggest to me that “opinion leaders” is a misnomer. You conclude somehow that the people you interviewed are leading. But leading who? The rest of the world does not seem to be following.

    Shame on you for cluttering the noosphere with more junk social science.

  2. Colin,

    The sample base is opinion formers and is declared in all releases and on then page above. I repeat it here:

    The 2007 Edelman Barometer was fielded in October – November 2006. The study was a 30-minute telephone survey of opinion leaders (screened to be 35-64, have an annual household income within the top quartile for that country; college graduates; report being engaged in media, business, and public policy issues). WorldOne Research managed the fielding in the following countries:

    – 400 interviews in the U.S.
    – 300 interviews in China (Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou only)
    – 150 interviews each in the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Poland, Russia, Ireland, Mexico, Brazil, Canada, Japan, South Korea, and India

    The margin of error is ±4.9% for the European sample (UK/ France/ Germany).

  3. Mr Edelman,

    I rather suspect that in the results driven world of top level business there is often a very fine line that must be walked. The pressure to make shareholders happy the market happy, the media happy, the consumer happy are very great. Not of course forgetting the pressure to be a success. For those at the peaks of business it’s scary out there.

    And yet to win trust, loyalty with love, with sincerety, because people actually believe in you has to be the most powerful thing that there is. At some point everyone be they in business or not has to choose who they want to be.

    Learning to be trustworthy is a noble attribute for anyone to aspire to, myself included.

    Many Thanks

    Josephine Fay

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