New Blog: The importance of trust in media, politics and business

Importance of Trust

Trust is an important value to have in any walk of life. In business, politics or even at a family level, we all need to believe that the person or organisation we are interacting with is reliable and truthful.

Political upheaval, the evolution of media and changes to personnel at the top of big companies can be attributed at some level to shifts in the degree of trust held by, for example, voters, consumers or shareholders.

Understanding the capital of trust is extremely important thing to comprehend. As a communications professional, it is vital to assess trustworthiness of the people and products we are promoting or defending.  

Who we perceive as a trusted source of information is being challenged all the time. This is reflected in the annual Edelman Trust Barometer – a global survey from one of the big beasts of the communication industry, sampling around 33,000 respondents with Ireland and UK included.

Released several weeks ago, the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer for Ireland made interesting reading.

General Findings

Family businesses and employee owned businesses are most trusted;

Social media and media as an institution showed the steepest decline in trust;

A good reputation does not always guarantee trust;

The mass population now has influence and authority over the Establishment;

Majority feel that the ‘system is failing them’ as they have a sense of injustice and a lack of hope.

Trust in Media

The Ireland study found that trust in media fell by 10% from the same time last year and was now regarded as the least trusted institution. From that media trust evaluation, it found that traditional media was most trusted with online media dropping 7% in the last year. These dips were also reflected in the UK study with trust in media dropping by 12% to 24%.

Confirming our own bias and positions, the study also found that respondents in Ireland favour search engines (53%) over human editors (47%) and are 2.5 times more likely to ignore information that supports a position they do not believe in. 49% stated that they never or rarely change their position on important social issues.

Chris Brown, Director, Brown O'Connor Communications

Trust in Spokespeople

CEO credibility in Ireland has dropped 16 points from the previous year to 27%, which now puts it on par with government officials and boards of directors as the least credible spokespeople.

Academic experts (61%), technical experts (58%) and ‘a person like yourself’ (54%) are the most credible spokespeople in Ireland, according to the research.

Employees are seen as the most credible spokespeople on issues including employee/customer relations (64%), innovation (33%) and industry issues (36%).

Trust in Business

Despite confidence in business tumbling, of the four institutions, it is viewed as the only one that can make a difference in the community it operates in. 68% of respondents agree a company can take specific actions to both increase profits and improve economic and social conditions in the community where it operates.

However, there are worries amongst the workforce in Ireland that business must respond to. People in Ireland expressed worries about losing their jobs due to the lack of training and skills provided to them (49%), foreign competitors (44%) and automation (37%).

It will be very interesting to see the read out from the barometer in the next 12 months as Brexit negotiations take hold, new leaders across Europe settle into their jobs and the NI Assembly threatens to be reinstalled. It certainly won’t be boring.

(Information source: Edelman Trust Barometer 2017 / Article appeared in Business First Magazine, May 2017)

Connect with Chris @cb_PRandPA and @Brown_OConnor