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Global trust in institutions and businesses down but trust in peers and experts up
InsightsStrategy DocumentsI16/2012ReputationGlobal Trust in Institutionsand Businesses Down,but Trust in Peersand Experts Up The crisis is eroding the credibility of the system. Interestingly, only trust in the mass media is still growing and gaining higher positions in the global trust barometer rating, prepared annually by Edelman. NGOs are regarded as the institutions that enjoy the maximum level of approval on the part of citizens. However, even their positions in the rating are declining. The consequences of the financial and economic It is noteworthy that the sector of the mass media crisis that started in 2008 with the bankruptcy of – when the results of all countries are viewed the financial giant Lehman Brothers and sub-prime aggregately – has also improved its positions in mortgages in the USA, and subsequently spread the trust rating. According to Alan VanderMolen, to the European markets – is making a clearly President and CEO of Edelman’s Global Practices, negative impact on the level of trust in institutions this change may be due to the contribution made by and businesses reported by people on the global the mass media in the analysis and education of the level (institutions include governments and even general public about the causes of the current crisis NGOs, which are still the most trusted institutions as well as reporting important cases of corruption, but are for the first time losing their positions in such as in India. These merits evidently outweighed the Netherlands, Sweden and Russia). the scandals around the mass media, such as the Murdoch case in the United Kingdom. The immediate circle of individuals – their friends and families – as well as experts on different subjects, such as scientists and academics are the ones who Major fall of trust in governments inspire confidence and enjoy credibility. This since the launch of the rating phenomenon is probably reinforced by the advance The North American communication and PR of social networks and the digital boom 2.0. consulting firm Edelman launched its global studyThis document was prepared by Corporate Excellence and contains references, among other sources, to the statements made by thePresident and CEO of Edelman’s Global Practices Alan VanderMolen and Edelman’s CEO for Spain Miguel Ángel Aguirre during thepresentation of the Edelman Trust Barometer 2012 in Madrid, on January 26, 2012.
Global Trust in Globally, reduces confidence in three of the four institutions, only increases the Institutions and confidence in the media Businesses Down, but Trust in Friends and Experts Up TRUST IN INSTITUTIONS 2011 56 % Informed Public 53 % 52 % 2012 47 % Informed Public 43 % 2012 38 % General public Government Business 61 % 58 % 49 % 52 % 50 %“The imme- 46 % diate circleof individu- als – their friends and Media NGOs families – as well as Source: Edelman Trust Barometer, 2011. experts on different in 2000. The study covers 25 countries and is based countries, Nordic countries, Latin America, the subjects, on online interviews with the sample of 1000 Netherlands and Italy. such as sci- people in each country, and an additional sample of 700 people regarded as informed public (500 in the Finally, the level of trust in business leaders is higher entists and USA and China, and 200 in other countries). than in politicians. Again, the leaders of distrust in academics public managers are European countries, with Italy The study analyses, for example, the trust in and Spain on top of the list. Globally, distrust is theare the ones governments in different countries at the times main motif of the general situation, with more andwho inspire when governments do something that is regarded more countries finding themselves in the red zone by the citizens as correct and good. In 2012, only (not trusted) of the list – including Sweden, South confidence the Netherlands, Sweden, Canada and some Asian Korea, France, Japan and Spain. On the other and enjoy countries managed to surpass 50% threshold of extreme, still hanging on in the blue zone (trusted), trust, which means that the citizens trust their are the emerging Asian economies, Latin America credibility” governments. The most dramatic declines compared and the Netherlands. to the previous year have been observed in Brazil, Japan and Spain. On the global level, this is the most significant decline since the launch of the More trust in the technological sector, barometer. However, paradoxically, this distrust less trust in the financial sector coexists with the reported need for greater regulation Banks and financial entities are still the least and control on the part of public administrations. trusted business area according to the respondents, with results even lower than in 2011. On the other On the other hand, the study also analyses the hand, the technological sector has remained the trust in the business community: many developed most trusted industry for six years running. Former economies report double-digit decline of trust leader of this rating, telecommunications, fell to in companies, mainly in the largest economies no.5, replaced by the car-making sector. Only the of the euro zone, such as Germany, France and consumer goods sector managed to improve its Spain. However, on the global level trust in position in 2012, becoming the fourth most trusted business is gradually recovering from the record industry globally. low levels of 2008. And again, Asian economies are in a good shape – with an exception South The power generation sector suffered a significant Korea – as well as Anglo-Saxon non-European decline, especially in Japan in the wake of the nuclear Insights 2
Global Trust in Growing skepticism, almost twice as many countries are now skeptical Institutions and Most EMEA countries are ‘skeptics’ in 2012 Businesses Down, but Trust in Friends and Experts Up 2011 2012 GLOBAL 55 GLOBAL 51 Brazil 80 > China 76 UAE 78 UAE 68 Indonesia 74 Singapore 67 China 73 India 65 OPTIMISTIC Netherlands 73 Indonesia 63 Mexico 69 Mexico 63 Singapore 67 Netherlands 61 Argentina 62 Canada 58 India 56 Italy 56 Italy 56 Argentina 54 NEUTRAL Canada 55 Australia 53 South Korea 53 < Brazil 51 Sweden 52 Sweden 49 “Traditional Japan Australia 51 51 > U.S. South Korea 49 44 information Spain 51 > Poland 44 channels France Poland 50 49 > United Kingdom Ireland 41 41 SKEPTICS remain the Germany 44 < France 40 trust U.S. United Kingdom 42 40 < Germany Spain 39 37 leaders. Russia 40 < Japan 34 However, Ireland 39 Russia 32 they de- The combined result is the average trust of a country in the four institutions. Public informed of 25 to 64 years in an overall total of 20 countries (excluding Argentina, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and UAE) and in 23 countries. monstrate Source: Edelman Trust Barometer, 2011. the slowestgrowth. The catastrophe that also ricocheted off to Germany and information sources, says Miguel Ángel Aguirre, growth of caused a loss of trust the power generation industry Edelman’s CEO in Spain. official and there for the same reason. This decline, as well as the decline of the financial sector, is reported in It appears that top managers and official spokespersons corporate all countries of the study. Pharmaceuticals lose of governments, institutions and companies are less information positions as well, while the drinks sector managed to preserve its positions. credible according to the global public opinion, while technical experts, academics and scientists enjoy more sources has trust. The close circle of an individual – his or her familyslowed down Overall, in terms of percentages, the global level of trust in the sectors remains in the same range members, colleagues and friends, grouped under the title “someone like you” – are the ones whose losses of trust as well” between 45% and 80%, with the changes that have have been minimal in the general context of distrust. been discussed above. As for specific regions, the countries that report lowest trust levels in the most As for trust in advice and recommendations, the affected sectors (finance and power generation) are most credible sources of information for taking the same (Germany, France and South Korea). decisions are experts, who again top the rating of trust, followed by colleagues and friends (24%). Employees of companies (24%) are the ones who The close and personal wins more than others have increased their trust capital over the distant and official in the eyes of respondents. CEOs (-18%) and One of the most important changes took place in politicians (-15%) have suffered the most dramatic recent years in trusted channels of information. fall in the history of the Edelman Barometer. Television appears to be the big loser – especially in China – as a source of information that lost trust, Coming back to information channels, microblogs followed by newspapers, radio and magazines. such as Twitter and social networks like Facebook are the real trust stars (75% more trusted compared On the whole, the traditional information channels to the previous year), and to a lesser extent, other remain the trust leaders, but their growth has slowed digital sources (forums, media, etc.), especially in down, as well as the growth of official and corporate countries like Spain and China. Insights 3
Global Trust in Reputation brings credibilityInstitutions andBusinesses Down, Reputation and trust are synonymousbut Trust in Friendsand Experts Up Company in the untrusted Company that is trusted 57% Believe a negative information after hearing it 1 or 2 times 51% Believe a positive information 25% after hearing it 1 or 2 times 15% Believe a positive feedback Believe negative information after hearing it 1 or 2 times after hearing it 1 or 2 times Source: Edelman Trust Barometer, 2011. Skepticism requires repetition of messages layoffs and growing unemployment. However, In the moments such as this, due to a higher paying attention to the opinion of consumers and level of social skepticism, it is more important innovation are important issues as well. than ever that companies and governments make communications more frequently and establish The key to achieving recognition in future in order a much more intensive relationship with their to launch initiatives and become market leaders audiences. Edelman’s barometer shows that citizens seems to be in becoming the leader in the social need to hear the same message 3 to 5 times before context, which implies active listening, excellent they start treating this message as truthful. treatment of the employees, valuing people as they are, protecting the environment and ethical The growing disparity of sources and media behavior, in addition to offering great products or emphasizes this trend, showing that persistent top-quality services, having access to great resources communication leads to the consolidation of an idea or getting the best positions in the rankings. in the public mind and overcomes the contradictions frequently caused by contrasting messages. In this framework, companies are a potential platform for restoring trust. There is a big difference These messages should transmit leadership and between attitudes towards companies with a good visualize this leadership in order to contribute to reputation and companies with a bad reputation. If overcoming the current crisis. This means that the one trusts a company, one will believe new positive messages should be devised in the form of specific information about it and will give the benefit of a ideas and projects rather than based solely on the doubt to new negative information. If a company is economic and business results. not trusted, negative information will be accepted as truthful immediately. According to the results of Conclusion: an opportunity the 2011 Trust Barometer, in the case of a company to meet the expectations with a bad reputation, 57% of people trust negative On the one hand, general distrust in companies and information after hearing it one or two times, and institutions is being translated into growing trust only 15% of people trust positive information in channels and persons in the immediate circle after hearing it one or two times. In the case of of the individuals. On the other hand, companies a company with a good reputation, 51% believe may use this loss of trust as an opportunity to positive information and 25% believe negative respond to the expectations – something that has information about this company. not been seen as satisfactory by the stakeholders and the society in general. Companies with a good reputation may act as a launching pad for the process of restoring trust. The difference between what is considered important In this sense, companies, being a part of the civil for companies to do and what is done in reality society, are in a better position than governments. remains significant, especially when it comes to The second stage will start when trust will working conditions of the employees – an issue, the transfer from the civil sector to governments and importance of which is second only to the massive public institutions. Insights 4