As an employee at Edelman since 2005, the annual Edelman Trust Barometer is a piece of our IP that I’ve been familiar with since the beginning of my tenure. I’ve looked at the global and U.S. data each year, been a part of conversations about what some of the annual findings mean for current and potential clients, and read the media coverage that results from Richard Edelman’s presentation of the Barometer at Davos. But this year, for the first year, I really delved into the Barometer to learn about the findings and their implications.
Edelman Russia hosted our first-ever Trust Barometer event on March 12, 2013 in Moscow, and I was a part of the team that pulled the event together. Aside from contributing to the logistical concerns of organizing an event, I also needed to become intimately familiar with Russian findings – not only what the data showed, but why.
Though I’ve spent less than half a year in the country, I wasn’t surprised to see that Russia ranked at the bottom of Edelman’s Trust Index, with an overall trust score of 36 (the global trust score is 57).
Media coverage about fraud and corruption in Russia is wide-spread around the globe, and clearly impacts the country’s feelings of trust toward its government, business, NGOs and media. In fact, corruption/fraud was the number one reason selected by respondents for their decreasing trust in business and government in Russia (50 percent and 57 percent, respectively).
Looking past the poor trust rankings for Russia, our team in Moscow did notice a bright spot. While trust in business leaders/CEOs may be low (41 percent), trust in companies’ technical experts (70 percent) and “a person like yourself” (52 percent) are holding steady as credible sources.
This has a significant real-world application for our clients in Russia: Not only does it highlight the need for strong internal communication to keep employees aware of company news and decisions – since they’re trusted by their peers as credible sources of company information – but it’s also a key consideration for companies that are frequently faced with identifying the right spokesperson to carry their message to the public.
But one spokesperson isn’t necessarily the right person to deliver every message. The Barometer provides invaluable insights about which spokespeople are trusted sources to provide credible and honest information around different types of messages. For example, many companies are focusing on how they can better attract and retain top talent in Russia. The global public names company employees as the most credible sources for information about a company’s employee programs, benefits and working conditions and a company’s business practices, both positive and negative. This emphasizes a clear opportunity for business to utilize the voice of its employees to deliver on employer reputation.
The right spokesperson may not always be the CEO, and as our client’s PR partners, we need to help them identify a robust cadre of spokespeople from within their company who can best deliver on specific messages.
Check out the video below of Edelman Russia general director Kerry Irwin discussing the 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer on Russia Today, a 24/7 English-language news channel in Moscow (skip ahead to the 39:20 mark).
Amanda Belcher is a Fellow for Edelman in Moscow, from Washington, D.C.