In whom we trust

greenbackAs the world emerges from a deep recession, Edelman has released its annual Trust Barometer tracking opinion leaders’ trust in business, politics and the media.

Global trust in business is up modestly, with trust in business in the UK stable at 49% and high in three of the four BRIC countries, with Brazil, India, and China above 60 percent. Trust in banks declined dramatically in most western countries, plummeting 39 points (68 to 29 percent) in the US and 20 points (41 to 21 percent) in the UK from 2007-2010.

“Trust in business has improved, but the patient has a long road to go for a full recovery,” said Richard Edelman, president and CEO of Edelman. “The increase in trust in business belies its fragility. There is concern that short-term actions have been taken only as a result of the crisis and that government will need to remain a watchdog. Companies will have to prove the skeptics wrong and show they can achieve both profit and purpose.”

For the first time, this year’s survey shows that trust and transparency – which ranks in top spot in the UK (72%) – are as important to corporate reputation as the quality of products and services. In the US and in much of Western Europe, those two attributes rank higher than product quality—and far outrank financial returns, which sits at or near the bottom of 10 criteria in all regions.

Academics/experts or industry analysts are the most credible voices for information about a company. But the credibility of CEOs showed notable recovery in many markets, jumping by nine points in the US (to 26 percent) and by 13 points in the UK (to 33 percent).

Reports from industry analysts and articles in business magazines remain the most credible sources of information about a company, at 47 percent and 42 percent, respectively. However, the credibility of mainstream media, including television, newspapers, and radio, is waning. In the US the credibility of television news dropped 20-plus points in two years (from 43 points in 2008 to 20 points in 2010). In the UK radio news coverage dropped by 20 points in two years. In the BRIC countries, television news and newspapers declined by more than 15 points each in two years (to 40 and 30 percent, respectively).

The full report and UK highlights are available at http://edelman.co.uk/trustbarometer/

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