Public Trust Crisis – 1/30/13

The most—and least—trusted industries and spokespeople

Public Trust CrisisMost people still distrust banks, business leaders, and government officials, according to Edelman’s 13th annual Trust Barometer, which measures the public’s faith in various institutions, industries, and individuals.

The least trusted industries are financial services, banks, and media, although all three saw modest gains in trust from the previous year.

Meanwhile, business leaders and government officials remain dubious to the public.

Only 18 percent of respondents to the Edelman study trust business leaders to tell the truth, while a mere 13 percent trust government officials to do the same.

“We’re clearly experiencing a crisis in leadership,” Richard Edelman, president and CEO of Edelman PR, said in a press release.

However, the good news is that overall trust is on the rise. The trust index worldwide is up to 57 percent this year from 51 percent in 2011.

Research firm Edelman-Berland carried out the survey by questioning nearly 32,000 adults worldwide; 5,800 of them are considered “informed,” meaning they are college-educated, with household income in the top quartile for their age and country; they read or watch business/news media at least several times per week, and they follow public policy issues in the news.

Among the “informed” respondents, non-government organizations are the most trusted types of organizations, followed by business, media, and government. Media, the study noted, has seen a steady uptick in trust over the years.

Here are industries ranked by trust:

1. Technology (77 percent compared with 79 percent last year)
2. Automotive (69 percent compared with 66 percent)
3. Food and beverage (66 percent compared with 64 percent)
4. Consumer packaged goods (65 percent compared with 62 percent)
5. Telecommunications (62 percent compared with 60 percent)
6. Brewing and spirits (62 percent compared with 59 percent)
7. Energy (59 percent compared with 53 percent)
8. Pharmaceuticals (58 percent compared with 56 percent)
9. Media (53 percent compared with 51 percent)
10. Banks (50 percent compared with 47 percent)
11. Financial services (50 percent compared with 45 percent)

Companies headquartered in Canada, Germany, Sweden and Switzerland are the most trusted, according to the report.

The most trusted spokespeople from companies are:
1. Academic or expert (69 percent compared with 68 percent last year)
2. Technical expert in company (67 percent compared with 66 percent)
3. A person like you (61 percent compared with 65 percent)
4. Financial or industry analyst (51 percent compared with 46 percent)
5. NGO representative (51 percent compared with 50 percent)
6. Regular employee (50 percent compared with 50 percent)
7. CEO (43 percent compared with 38 percent)
8. Government official or regulator (36 percent compared with 29 percent)

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