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
Strategic analyst / consultant for over 20 years, specializing in optimizing Web marketing / social media for businesses and organizations, Raymond Morin is also the author of three reference guides (in French), and co-author of three other books about digital marketing, public relations and human resources management. A recognized professional blogger, in both languages, he regularly presents and facilitates conferences for organizations, as well as in-house training workshops. In English, he contributes monthly to various platforms of professional bloggers and social media influencers. His next book, Generation C - Confluence Marketing at the Era of Connected Consumers, will be published next fall on Friesen Press Publishing.