The following is my letter that will accompany our 10th annual Citizenship report coming out in the fall.
Public relations in its best expression embodies integrity, decency, entrepreneurship and citizenship. All of these build trust. I’m proud of what our firm is doing to build a house of trust through our mission, values and actions.
The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer and our recent Edelman Trust Barometer special report on brands reflect a profound change in the trust dynamic, with trust becoming local and led by business. Seventy-five percent of global respondents say they trust their employer to do what is right, two-thirds expect their employer will join them in taking action on societal issues and 71 percent believe their CEO must take the lead on societal change without waiting for government.
Our brand survey found that trust is nearly as important to consumers as quality and value. Eight-in-10 respondents believe trust in brands is an important part of their buying behavior. Sixty-seven percent agree that a good reputation may get consumers to try a product, but unless they come to trust the company behind the product, they will soon stop buying it.
We are communicating to our clients what building trust requires: They must lead change, empower employees, start locally and demonstrate CEO leadership. In the coming months we will be launching our 10th annual Citizenship report, which will seek to communicate to our employees, clients, suppliers and the wider society what we’re doing ourselves to achieve these core objectives. We are also committed to the practice of ethical communications, transparent and well-sourced, with a place for community commentary, in this time of the battle for truth.
Building trust internally and externally is part of our heritage. When my father, Daniel Edelman, started the firm in 1952, his 10 Principles of Success underlined that he was a visionary about citizenship. They included giving back, always doing right, fostering health and well-being, and focusing on educating and training and workplace diversity.
We’re speaking out for causes, just as he did, and we take on clients that are consistent with Edelman values. Dan is credited with helping achieve adoption of mandatory seat belt laws. In my first year as CEO I decided that we would no longer work with tobacco companies. We do not represent guns and coal. We listen to and consider the views of our people.
Today, we’re working within our firm and beyond for gender equality, diversity and inclusion, mental health and well-being services, sustainable practices and environmental stewardship. The work of public relations should be in the public interest, a higher bar than what is legal and expected.
Richard Edelman is president and CEO.