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Raymond Morin
February 27, 2017

Trust Barometer 2017: The Ultimate Alarm for Organizations

Edelman Trust Barometer

On January 15, 2017, the public relations firm Edelman presented its annual trust report. The findings were then published by PR Newswire with a rather explosive title: 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer Reveals Global Implosion of Trust. The subtitle is perhaps even more sobering: “CEO Credibility at Lowest Level Ever” (PRNewswire).

Edelman surveyed more than 33,000 people in 28 countries between October and November 2016 to carry out its annual study. In the video embedded at the foot of this article, Richard Edelman states that 85% of the population mistrusts ‘the system’ to some degree. With the release of its famous report, the firm sends the ultimate alarm signal to companies and organizations.

(To skip directly to the slideshare and video, click here)

The confidence of the population declines for each of the institutions

One of the first observations that emerges from the report is that the population has generally lost confidence in all institutions of society, including NGOs. Between 2016 and 2017, the confidence level of two types of organizations (media and government) reached their lowest ever level of confidence.

This gap in the level of confidence between the informed public and the mass population clearly demonstrates this, with 20 out of 28 countries where the level of confidence is now below the neutral of 50 points.

The media are now associated with the elite

Trust in traditional media fell to a low of 43% overall, reaching all-time lows in 17 countries. In 2017, only in Indonesia (67%) and India (66%) is there an increase in the level of confidence in the media.

“People now see the media as part of the elite. With results, a propensity of independent media, and peer impact”, explains Richard Edelman in the article. In the same vein, people now rely on independent media as well as institutionalized media to keep up with the latest news. Search engines are up by 3 points in 2017 (64%), but it is the online media that reap the highest confidence rate with more than 51% (+5 points).

According to the authors of the Edelman report, this loss of confidence in the media has also led to the rise of the phenomenon of false news, and of politicians who address themselves directly to the masses. In this context, the media will surely have to adopt a more social and local approach, in order to deal more effectively with the rise of consumer activism, which is constantly gaining momentum.

It isn’t difficult to extrapolate that if the explosion of fake news is a result of a loss of confidence in the media, this in turn has caused a marked downturn in the perception of the media as a whole.

Organizations and their leaders face popular mistrust

According to Edelman’s report, the public is very critical of the institutions and the system that runs them. The five things that most adversely affect trust are:

  • Bribing Government officials to win contracts
  • Paying themselves hundreds of times more than they pay their emplyees
  • Tax avoidance (shifting expenses to other countries)
  • Overcharging for basic life needs
  • Erosion of quality to cut costs

Between 2016 and 2017, the population confidence rate in enterprises declined in 18 of the 28 countries surveyed. While there is a 7-point increase in the United States, the ‘Trump effect’ conversely appears to have had a significant impact on the confidence of the surrounding population. This can be demonstrated by losses of 6 points in Canada and Colombia, and 9 points in Mexico. And, among the countries that still give their confidence to companies and leaders, there is only an increase in India, Indonesia and the Netherlands.

Employees and loved ones are more credible than managers

Despite a slight decline in confidence (4 points compared to 2016), employees remain the most credible spokespersons to spread company messages. The population continues to give it its confidence on all matters that matter to them; Employee treatment and customer service, business practices and crisis management, innovation efforts, industrial vision and the social and digital transformation of the organization.

According to Edelman’s report, the more the message seems to come from a media directly linked to an institutional source, the more it loses credibility in the eyes of the population. With a 60%, rating, there is a growing tendency to trust only people who are like oneself. In fact, only technical and academic experts are as trusted as those seen as peers.

For the first time, experts in the financial sector are under the neutral point of 50 points, with a decrease of 7 points compared to 2016). CEOs fell to historic lows, with a 12% drop compared to 2016, to a mere 37%. Steering Committee Members, suffering their own 10% drop, are even less trusted, at 35%. In essence, those leading companies are no longer seen as credible – surely a dangerous situation for many companies.

“The leaders must address the issues that really matter to society. Leaders have done a remarkable job to take advantage of the benefits of innovation, but have yet done little to discuss the impact that this progress will have on jobs. Businesses must also focus on more equitable treatment of employees while offering better benefits and professional training”, concludes Kathryn Beiser, world president of the Edelman Corporation.

The Edelman Trust Barometer 2017 Slideshare

As usual, Edelman’s annual Trust Barometer Global Index is a document worth downloading, and regularly consulted to better analyze user-consumer behavior. You can download it from the Edelman website.

What do you think?

What do you think of this article, and the results of the Trust Barometer 2017 report? Do you think this is a warning signal to businesses and organizations? Share your opinion with our readers by commenting.

(NOTE: This article is not sponsored in any way, and has not been solicited in any way by the stakeholders. It is only for references and information that I have presented to you some extracts.)

Source for all slides: http://www.edelman.com/global-results/

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Raymond Morin

SMO Senior Consultant, Author/Blogger and Speaker at Virage 2.0
Raymond Morin is a francophone author and speaker, who has also acted as senior strategic consultant and coach for organizations, SMBs and independent professionals for over 20 years. An early adopter to the Web and social media, he shared his learning and knowledge, throughout those years, for the benefits of several funding and governmental organizations, before choosing to be a freelancer for entrepreneurs and professionals organizations. His focus is on establishing bridges between the different enterprises and consumers, to fill the gap between cultures and generations, for the benefits of each professional user. Author of the books "Culture Web à la portée des PME" (2001) and "Comment entreprendre le virage 2.0" (2010), he has also contributed to several magazines and bloggers platforms over the years. His upcoming new book in French, entitled "Generation C et l’influence des consommateurs branchés", is prefaced by Neal Schaffer, and will be also published in English and Spanish during the next year.
  • Joe Honick

    The idea of TRUST needs no confirmation, but the fragile nature of it was never more of concern, especially as it relates to the standing of the United States in the world…and even more among our own people so powerfully driven to division by perhaps the most vulgar presidential campaign in our history. The very concept of TRUST demands as never before there be some kind of world council that says however convincingly it can that something is being done to provide basis for reliance on what is ask of and told to people everywhere. Such an idea may well be impossible. What is worse, a this perilous time, would be the clear broadcast of the idea would not be pursued at all,