At the end of January, in partnership with the FT, Edelman launched their 2011 Trust Barometer which analyses how the world’s citizens view and of course trust their governments, businesses and media organisations.
According to the Edelman Barometer; “In a year marred by corporate crises and financial turmoil for European governments, trust in business and government showed marked resilience. Trust in business saw a two-point global increase, surging in Brazil, rising in Germany, and holding steady in China and India. In the UK, trust in business remained stable at 44 percent. In the Trust composite score, an average of a country’s trust in all four institutions (business, government, NGOs, and media), the U.S. fell to fourth from the bottom, while three years ago, it was in the top four. The UK ranks second from the bottom, jointly with Russia and ahead of Ireland.” The 8 page executive summary can be found here: http://edelmaneditions.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/trust-executive-summary-final.pdf
There are a number of interesting findings in the survey;
Firstly that UK-business trust remained stable, you might have expected the tail-end of the financial crisis and the BP oil spill, to name just a few examples, to have knocked people’s trust in business but it would appear not (the US on the other hand, dropped down 8 points after a 18 point spike last year).
Secondly is that government trust has remained low in the UK and US, a factor which leaves both countries languishing at the bottom of the index (Brazil is now at the top of the index having shot up from position 8 last year) next to Russia.
Thirdly, trust in the media crept up slightly on the year but had a big drop in the UK and US, with the report stating that people now need to hear something six or more times to believe it – no wonder the 24 hour News channels seem to repeat headlines parrot fashion some days!
The way that company spokespeople are now being viewed and trusted by the public is also interesting. “Trust in all credentialed spokespeople is higher this year, signalling a desire for authority and accountability… CEOs are now in the top tier of trustworthy spokespeople”. This would suggest that it’s more important than ever to make sure your CEO is both authoritative and a good communicator. But the Edelman research went on to ask who should speak for a company in a challenging time and the conclusion is that a number of spokespeople from the CEO to Chairman and other relevant technical experts all have a role during a crisis.
Finally, the barometer looked at “whether trust can diminish the impact bad news has on a company. The answer is yes. 57 percent will believe negative information about a company they do not trust after hearing it just once or twice. When a company is trusted however, only 25 percent will believe negative news after hearing it once or twice”. The suggestion is that a company would do well to build up their ‘trust bank account’ in the good times so they can make the most of it during difficult/crisis times.
While there are of course many different reasons why companies and national governments may go up or down in popularity, it is important to realise the value of trust. It is not something that can be created overnight, though it can be lost even more swiftly. Working on both your communicators and your reputation during the good times, can do wonders to shield you during the bad times and all companies and governments would do well to remember this.
Will Edwards – www.bluewoodtraining.co.uk – February 2011
Just last week he was on record as defending Andy Gray and Richard Keys for their offensive comments, and this week the focus is on Jeremy Clarkson again following his own derogatory comments about Mexico made on a recent episode of Top Gear.
The Top Gear presenters are in a pool of diplomatic hot water after a Mexican ambassador, having seen the footage of last Sunday’s episode, wrote a scathing letter of complaint to their BBC bosses. Within hours it was all over the internet.
Ambassador Eduardo Medina Mora’s complaint stems from a piece in last Sunday’s programme in which the presenters reviewed a Mexican sports car and were less than complimentary about the car and the nation from whence it came.
Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May made the controversial remarks whilst discussing a Mexican-made sports car. After some initial childish banter, presenter Richard Hammond went what could be considered to be a bit too far when saying: “Why would you want a Mexican car? Because cars reflect national characteristics don’t they… Mexican cars are just going to be lazy, feckless, flatulent, overweight, leaning against a fence asleep looking at a cactus with a blanket with a hole in the middle on as a coat.”
To make matters worse, Jeremy Clarkson went on to say of the Mexican ambassador himself. “We won’t get any complaints about this because at the Mexican embassy the ambassador’s going to be sitting there with a remote control like this,” Clarkson said, slumping in the chair, snoring.
Not surprisingly, Mora has demanded the presenters apologise for their “outrageous, vulgar and inexcusable insults”. In his words: “The presenters of the program resorted to outrageous, vulgar and inexcusable insults to stir bigoted feelings against the Mexican people, their culture as well as their official representative in the United Kingdom. These offensive, xenophobic and humiliating remarks serve only to reinforce negative stereotypes and perpetuate prejudice against Mexico and its people.
“Although casual banter is an essential component of the program’s appeal, humour never justifies xenophobia. It is not a matter of taste but of basic principles.”
Just last week Clarkson had commented on the dismissal and resignation of Andy Gray and Richard Keys, admitting that “If that’s the new benchmark, the three of us would have been sacked probably 100 times for the things we’ve said. So would everyone. It’s baffling. It’s a very baffling, worrying time if I’m not allowed to say to Richard or James something on my mind for fear I could be sacked for it.”
It’s not quite on a par with the Sky Sports presenters’ comments, but it will be interesting to see how the Beeb, and indeed the presenters themselves manage the media relations for this one.
Gemma Carey, Bluewood Training – media and presentation training