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Edelman Trust Barometer 2017. A UK Perspective

edelman trust survey 2017

We will always have the ability to build trust. How we earn it is down to us.

If you can be transparent, genuine and authentic, what you sell becomes easier. You become stronger when people regard you as an open business that has connectivity and relationships at its core.

However, if you were to read the latest Edelman Trust Barometer 2017 (published 13th January), you could be thinking that the sky is about to fall.

This is an annual survey, conducted every year, for the past 17 years by PR colossus Edelman. The latest survey 33,000 respondents took part across 28 countries. 1,150 respondents were from the UK. This was during October and November 2016, so after Brexit and the US election.

You can have a look at my interpretation on the 2016 Edelman Trust Survey here.

For the first time, there is also a UK add-on, with 1,500 responses, during the final week of 2016 and the first week of 2017.

Its aim is to highlight the trust that people have in institutions, government, media and business.


Trust Is Now In Trauma

The common theme from this years report is that trust is in trauma. Then again are we just not gullible anymore?

Change is already here.

Perhaps time to read with one eye closed:

  • The majority of respondents from the UK (60%) believe that the institutions have failed them. There is little hope for the future.
  • People do not trust the government (26%) or the media (24%). UK business trust is at it’s lowest since 2012 (now 33%), but it is still the most trusted source of information. However, trust across the board has plummeted in a short space of time.
  • It is worrying is that the facts matter less and people are more likely to believe search engines (59%) than human editors (41%).
  • CEO credibility is at an all time low within the UK (down 12% from 2016).
  • Two in five people agreed that they would support politicians they trust to make things better, even if they exaggerated the truth.

Edelman Trust Barometer 2017 – UK Results from Edelman_UK

The establishments that were in place to hold society together are now in tatters. No one trusts them anymore. What provided steadiness and knowing that our best interests were once being looked after has now crumbled.

edelman trust barometer 2017 uk


People Will Always Trust Others

However, whatever way you look at it, trust still exists. People’s capacity to trust others has not changed. The difference is that people want proof and make association before they commit.

A natural state of disbelief and incredulity is a good thing. It is up to us as businesses to take responsibility and to show evidence that what you are saying is true.

The latest report is representative of society that has given up on others that once led the way.

Fake news is a term we didn’t use until the latter part of 2016 and the spaces to interrupt and disrupt are heading to proportions we haven’t seen before.

Here is quick proof to show what I mean. Let me show the evidence that your space is getting interrupted without you realising it. If you visit (full credit to Trevor Young for recommending this), it will tell you how many emails you are subscribe to. My first visit resulted in over 250 emails I had subscribed to and 99% I know that I didn’t subscribe.


A Good Value To Have

Not being trustworthy is a good value to have. It means that you don’t take things at face value and encouraged to question everything.

As businesses what this highlights is the responsibility to set out a clear vision by sharing, co-creating, connecting and demonstrating to an audience how everything pieces together. In the words of James C Collins in ‘Good To Great,’ “Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline.”

It all comes down to how we all evolve and instil a new discipline where connectivity and community becomes a caveat to build trust, whilst the others throw it away and focus on a transactional, not relational framework. Building trust is centred on not letting people down. A simple principal that can become overlooked.

Whilst the Edelman Trust Survey has taken a heavy deviation from anticipated hope to expected hell, this is where the opportunity lies.


Time For Small Businesses To Lead

It is the responsibility of businesses (no matter what size) to lead and to behave differently.

73% of people (in the survey) agreed that a company has a responsibility within their own communities, not just for profit for an obligation to create better economic and social conditions.

It is this response where businesses can take on responsibility set by their predecessors and the institutions before them. It is time to lead by showing evidence that what you say is true.

edelman trust barometer 2017 uk

Other businesses have hidden agendas and pretend to be the things that they are not. This provides the momentum to create a new treaty that sets the precedent for the future. Here are ten rules for the trustworthy business:

  • the web allows us to connect and build a digital community. We can also take the digital community and transfer this to a physical dynamic, where we can address groups of people with a shared mindset.
  • you can create a defined message that you act on, build and share with others.
  • don’t rely on what has already been said, share experiences that resonate with other people.
  • really understand who it is you are speaking to and how you can connect with the ideas and approach you have.
  • it is just as important to listen as well as talking.
  • from customers to the community you are part of, these are the people you nurture. Value is reciprocal.
  • a continuous and consistent dialogue becomes the foundation for all communication.
  • participation is always encouraged, not isolation endorsed. As an aside, a local event barred someone who had paid to attend as they thought they had an agenda (completely false though).
  • Play a beneficial role to others where empathy and standing shoulder to shoulder is endorsed. Ian Rhodes commented, “To do something unique isn’t about standing out. It’s about standing shoulder-to-shoulder.” Remember, people like us want to be with people like us.
  • Actions/content are continuous and follow a theme to what your business is all about to help you connect with your audience.

Businesses are still regarded as the main source of trust, so there is opportunity to act on this. The majority of people surveyed want better social conditions. Educating is part of social responsibility. Whether this is writing, audio or video, the tools are in abundance.

This is how you can differentiate by taking a responsibility where other people can acquire skills. Whilst making a return is key to being in business, there is also a role to take the lead of self-development, whereby connections are made and trust is built.


Lets Round Up

From looking at the Edelman Trust Barometer at another angle, the lack of trust is a good thing. It’s now time for a clean slate, we’re all on an equal playing field, and lets see who can grab the momentum.

We have all become a lot more thick-skinned and seeing through the bull**** is a quality that should be championed.

So, what’s the answer if trust is now hitting the floor? Those companies that can build an affinity with others are in a far greater place to grow momentum.

Lets stop the top-down, ‘you’re lucky to be working with us’ approach and discover a new way to flourish built on experience, delivery, co-creation and proof.

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