For the first time ever, the 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer found that an online search result was more valued than a journalist. In fact, almost half of study respondents recognized social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter as their source for news and information. At the same time, people’s trust in business has declined compared to last year, with a record 80 percent of respondents saying they distrust business, government or both.
Another startling finding from the study, which is now in its 15th year, is that people are concerned about the pace of change. More than 50 percent of respondents said that business developments are happening too quickly and that there is not enough adequate testing. What’s more, 54 percent attributed business growth or greed/money—and not the desire to improve the world or people’s lives—as the real catalysts for innovation.
For business leaders, these findings serve as a wake-up call. While speed to market may be essential to beating out the competition, it does not necessarily build goodwill among target audiences. And, when it comes to the bottom line, this lack of trust can potentially translate into lost sales and opportunity. This is especially true for larger corporations which, according to the study, are at a disadvantage when compared to smaller or family-owned companies. The need for reliable communications aimed at both customers and employees has never been more apparent. Letting your stakeholders know why your company is doing something is just as important as doing it. For example, when CVS Caremark stopped selling tobacco products last year, it simultaneously launched a smoking-cessation campaign that was more in keeping with its health care mission.
Likewise, careful consideration needs to be given to who is delivering your message and how. The Trust Barometer found CEOs to be a trustworthy source for only 4 out of 10 people. So, training employee ambassadors as spokespeople for your organization is critical to achieving results. In addition, heightened confidence in social media skews the traditional communications model. As a result, your company’s message should be crafted in such a way that it can be easily shared on social media sites.
How are you building trust with your employees and customers?