Measuring Trust

PR News Measurement Hall of Famer, Pauline Draper-Watts, and her Edelman Intelligence colleague Lauren Vincelli recently led an AMEC Measurement Month webinar, hosted by Burrelles, discussing some of the key findings from the annual Edelman Trust Barometer and how to measure trust.

Pauline kicked things off by taking us on a deeper dive into a few key findings and the data behind those results—sharing the numbers by specific segments, countries, and groups.

Overall Trust Inequality Returns to Record Highs

In the mass population—the 85 percent of the general public that is not the informed public—there’s a disparity of the trust between the informed public and everyone else.

The trust levels among the informed public and the mass population over time are diverging. In fact, we’ve returned to the record high level of trust inequality with a 16-point gap. In other words, the mass population has not benefited from the improved outlook—having not grown much since 2012.

“This disparity creates a world that truly feels out of balance, one where your ability to rely on institutions differs greatly depending on your level of income and education,” Pauline stated.

My Employer Most-Trusted Relationship

The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer revealed that trust has changed profoundly in the past year. People shifted their trust to the relationships within their control, most notably their employers.

Globally, 75 percent of people trust “my employer” to do what is right, significantly more than NGOs (57 percent), business (56 percent) and government and media (both 47 percent). We see general distrust of NGOs, business, government, and the media.

While these institutions aren’t trusted, people are turning to what is close to them—local and personal—their relationship with their employer. People feel invested in their employer-employee relationship because it’s tangible and comes with a sense of control. They can choose to change jobs or have some leverage over that relationship.

In fact, people want to hear more from their CEO (not CEOs in general, but their CEO). The majority of employees say that it is critically important for their employer to respond and talk about challenging times. These include industry-related issues, but also political events, national crises and other employee-driven issues. They want to work for an employer that offers leadership—one that stands up for them and their shared values.

Investing in Employee Trust is Investing in Your Bottom Line

For companies, building trust internally results in higher trust externally because most people (78 percent) see how you treat your employees as one of the most powerful indicators of whether your company can be trusted, Pauline explained. While a good reputation may convince someone to try a product or service, “if they do not come to trust you they will cease to buy from your company regardless of your reputation.”

Business has an obligation (and an opportunity) to fill the void left by other institutions, and it is not necessary to choose between societal impact and profits.

Globally, 73 percent agree that “a company can take specific actions that both increase profits and improve the economic and societal conditions in the communities where it operates.” For example, some of the tech companies have made a commitment to invest heavily in affordable housing in the Silicon Valley area—recognizing this is what they need to do for their business, as well as society, in terms of their reputation.

(Dis)Trust in Media

The media remains one of the least-trusted institutions. Nineteen (of the 26 markets) showed an improvement in trust in the media to do what is right; however, 16 markets remained in the distrust category.

While the US market showed an 8-point improvement, it remains in the distrust category with less than 50 percent trusting the media do what’s right. Pauline added, “which is a very sad state of affairs.”

This leads us to one of the most stunning (and seemingly contradictory) findings of the 2019 Trust Barometer.

Massive Rise in News Engagement

There was a 22 percent increase in people engaging with news content. On one hand, they are distrusting news but on the other they are engaging with the content more. Pauline says this is a profound shift.

The disengaged (those who consume news less than weekly) fell from 49 percent in 2018, to 25 percent in 2019—going from one to in two people not engaging with news content to only one in four not engaging. Seventy-two percent now engage in the news on a regular basis.

The category that saw the largest increase was amplifiers—those who not only regularly consume news but also share or post content, often adding their own voice to the conversation, several times a month or more.

Breaking this down further, more women than men became those amplifiers. A 23-point increase of women in the informed public category, and 13-point increase of women in the mass population.

Traditional Media, Search Most Trusted

While we saw significant distrust in the media, we’ve also seen the amplification of news increase. And now we see traditional media and search engines are still the most trusted—with social media trust lagging behind by more than 30 points in the US. Overwhelmingly, when people are looking for reliable sources, they turn to traditional media and search.

Measuring Your Trust

An enormous amount of time and energy has been spent on understanding the differences between those companies that are trusted and those who are not, says Lauren Vincelli, Edelman Intelligence Senior Vice President.

Lauren says trust is “not just a vanity metric—it is predictive of financial performance and other essential drivers of business success.”

Trusted organizations have some commonalities:

  1. They have more advocates/customers who are vocal and willing to recommend them.
  2. Their employees are more loyal, stronger and more vocal.
  3. Regulators are less likely to scrutinize or over-regulate these organizations.
  4. Investors see out-performance over companies that are not trusted, so they are more likely to receive investment dollars.
  5. They are more resilient in the face of crisis—they bounce back faster.
  6. High trust companies outperformed their sector by an average of 5 percent last year.

Companies in general are really good at measuring their own brand reputation and tying that back to sales. Conversely, Edelman is often looking at organizational and corporate reputation as a separate, distinct and very important measurement. They help businesses or organizations determine their “score” and best manage their trust capital among its audiences, stakeholders and shareholders.

Measuring Trust: Breaking it Down

While the infamous Edelman Trust Score is what most companies want to know, Lauren says that score without any context means nothing. When you look at the score differences across competitors and audiences, that score begins to come to life—it shows what comprises this score. Where do you perform the best? What is contributing to that score? Where do people most trust you? And what is most important to people?

Lauren explained the four trust dimensions that have been established and contribute to the Edelman trust score:

  1. Ability. Being good at what you do.
  2. Integrity. Being honest and transparent.
  3. Dependability. Keeps its promises and delivers.
  4. Purpose. Having a positive impact on society.

Where it can be customized and make this data actionable is to validate a list of drivers—behaviors that they are already doing, or behaviors they are planning to deliver—and establishing how important they are to people, and how the company performs them.

Finally, mapping that back to the connection between all the dimensions of trust shows how familiar and aware people are, and how they view and perceive communications from the company or organization. Then they have the data to put together a ‘road map’ to drive an increase in trust.

Making Trust Actionable

To clarify, the five steps to making trust actionable are:

  1. Start to prioritize trust drivers based on importance.
  2. Re-take stock of strengths to build on.
  3. Think about where you need more “evidence” (research).
  4. Look at your current communication across audiences and identify what needs to be better supported or developed.
  5. Establish internally what proof points are for key areas and build content around it.

While this is a long post on what was covered in this webinar, it certainly doesn’t cover everything. Seeing and hearing the webinar for yourself will help you link all of these together (and to see the charts and graphs demonstrating all of these statistics and how they correlate).

Click here for a replay of the webinar.

 

.*A version of this post by Tressa Robbins originally appeared on December 10, 2019, on the Burrelles Fresh Ideas blog at https://burrelles.com/measuring-trust/ and is cross-posted here with permission. 

PR Industry Conferences: Networking and Connecting

With the 2019 PRSA International Conference just around the corner, I have been thinking about all the Conferences (#PRSAICON) I’ve had the pleasure of attending over the past 15+ years. Professional Networking

At the same time, universities are now back in full-swing and PRSSA chapters are busy re-grouping, recruiting, fundraising and gearing up for their own International Conference (#PRSSAIC).
*Side note: As professional adviser to the PRSSA chapter at Southeast Missouri State University, I was the guest speaker at their first professional development event of the new school year, where I talked about how to leverage social media for personal branding and networking—and, of course, how important being an active member of PRSSA can help their future careers. (wink, wink)

All of this took me on a trip down memory lane—revisiting old photos, blog posts, and old handwritten notes. For the record, I wasn’t taking the ‘trip’ just for reminiscing’s sake (although it was definitely an enjoyable diversion!). I was trying to remember lessons learned that I could share with public relations and communications students.

Without a doubt, I can recall a handful of keynotes and quite a few breakout sessions stand out. However, I had to really force myself to concentrate and think about them.

What really jumped out in my memories were all the people I’ve met and the numerous new relationships that were formed, as well as old connections that were reinforced and strengthened over the years.

After the 2012 PRSAICON in San Francisco, I wrote that I “met nearly 20 people in real life that I previously had only known through social media.  As well as re-connected with a number of industry leaders that I only get to see that one time of year at Conference.” And from a business standpoint, it allows us (Burrelles) to solicit feedback on our services related to the PR pros’ business—to ensure we are offering what they need.

If I had to guess, that number (of IRL meetings from social media connections) has since quintupled. But it’s really not about numbers—quantity.  It’s about the quality.

You’ve heard the old adage, “It’s not what you, but who you know”? I’ve also heard “it’s not about who you know, it’s about who knows you”. I wouldn’t completely disagree with either of those, but I tend to be more agreeable with Dr. Ivan Misner, the founder BNI (and referred to as the “Father of Modern Networking” by CNN) who has a different take. Dr. Misner stated,

“It is not what you know or who you know but how well you know each other that counts.” 

In an Entrepreneur op-ed, he went further saying, “It doesn’t really matter if I have an amazing database of people with many phone numbers. What really matters is how many of them will take my call if I pick up the phone and ask for a favor.”

When it comes to connecting on LinkedIn, a Harvard Business Review contributor (Alexandra Samuel), said the more people we connect with on LinkedIn, the less valuable it becomes. I’m not sure I completely agree but I understand and appreciate the viewpoint.

Keep in mind that article was written a few years ago and the trend since then has been to connect and connect some more. I’m now re-thinking that position and am considering a purge of sorts.

The bottom line is that the networking opportunities are there—IRL and in social media—even better, both!

But it takes effort. It doesn’t just happen. You should have a goal in mind and come prepared.

For example, prior to the conference, I will review the attendee roster for potential new connections (as well as old ones that will be there) and connect with others I know in the official event app on my phone. This makes it a bit easier to reach out and try to pre-arrange a brief meet-up. Or, to simply remind me to “be on the lookout” for that person.

In addition, I’ll send out a few tweets (and monitor Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn) for others attending the conference to connect with. I try to balance strengthening some relationships, while ensuring I make new connections as well.

.*This post by Tressa Robbins originally appeared on October 16, 2019, on the Burrelles Fresh Ideas blog at https://burrelles.com/pr-industry-conferences-networking-connecting/ and is cross-posted here with permission.