Advisory Board Named

Justin Blake to serve as Executive Director

New York—Building on more than two decades of leadership measuring and reporting on institutional trust, Edelman today launched the Edelman Trust Institute, a global center for the study and cultivation of trust across business, government, media and civil society. The Institute will produce the expanding Edelman Trust Barometer report series, new data sets and updates on the state of trust and conduct a series of Trust Labs that will explore new ways to close trust gaps between society and its institutions.

“With business now the most trusted institution globally and the CEO of my employer now the most trusted spokesperson, it’s clear that trust is the element that binds business stakeholders together,” said Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman. “This is why we are making a multi-year investment in a collaborative endeavor with academia and other leading thinkers to build a deeper understanding of trust and its linkage to success. The Edelman Trust Institute is the next chapter in our commitment to the study of trust.”

The goal of the Trust Institute will be to provide leaders across institutions with a deeper understanding of the state of trust and equip the C-suite and boards with actionable insight about the changing dynamics of trust building and erosion. The Trust Institute will serve as a partner to academia, leading companies, foundations and other institutions committed to understanding and expanding trust.

“We began our investment in trust 21 years ago with the launch of the Edelman Trust Barometer because we believed trust and its impact on the world deserved to be studied and understood,” said Russell Dubner, global vice chairman of Edelman and chair of the Trust Institute. “Society is at an inflection point, and we believe that trust is the foundational currency of stakeholder capitalism and a defining business metric for companies and brands. Trust guides leadership, strategy, policy and sustained action and has never been more valuable to institutional and business leaders.”

In the coming months, The Trust Institute will release reports on brand trust in late June and return to work in September as well as a study of trust and sustainability to coincide with the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 26) in November. It also will delve into a library of the firm’s global trust tracking data on 200+ companies and brands as well as a growing pool of trust data based on the firm’s proprietary algorithms that process ‘trust signals’ from editorial and user-generated content. This data, traditionally used for the firm’s trust methodology, R&D and client engagements, will be used to generate new insights and foresights on the state of trust.

The Trust Institute will launch the annual Edelman Trust Institute Summer Series, an exclusive virtual convening of Edelman global clients, thought leaders and media experts. It also will soon introduce two partnerships, one focused on the development of trust-builders in the C-suite and another that will explore the power of trust as a business model.

Edelman Trust Institute Advisory Board

The Trust Institute has assembled a core group of advisors to shape its research, programming and partnership agenda. This diverse group of professors, former journalists and authors are authorities on the intersection of business, media, policy and civil society. The board includes:

  • Pierre Chandon, The L’Oréal Chaired Professor of Marketing—Innovation and Creativity at INSEAD and director of the INSEAD-Sorbonne University Behavioural Lab
  • Stephanie J. Creary Organizational Scholar and Assistant Professor of Management, The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
  • Hong Fan, Tsinghua University professor of Journalism and Communications and director of the National Image Research Center
  • Rik Kirkland, former editor FORTUNE and partner/director of publishing, McKinsey
  • Sandra Sucher, professor at Harvard Business School

The advisory board will help set the Trust Institute’s agenda, establish priority research topics and recommend research projects. Members of the board also will participate in Edelman convenings with C-Suite leaders.

Justin Blake Named Executive Director

Justin Blake, currently global chair of Executive Positioning at Edelman, has been named executive director of the Trust Institute. Blake will retain his role as head of the firm’s Executive Positioning offering. As executive director he will be responsible for setting the Institute’s editorial agenda, forging partnerships with academic institutions and other partners, overseeing the development of Trust Labs and content related to the state of trust. A 21-year veteran of Edelman, Blake will report to Dubner and be based in New York.

“Justin has long been a top advisor to executives, university presidents, NGO heads and government officials on issues of trust, in addition to being the author of numerous CEO-focused Trust Barometer special reports,” said Dubner. “His keen curiosity, deep understanding of the changing dynamic for leaders and experience working with top academics and thought-leading forums makes him a perfect fit for this important role.”

Blake has counseled FORTUNE 500 CEOs and executives from around the globe. He has led Edelman’s client work at Davos since 2002, advising CEOs and executives on their World Economic Forum engagement. He has presented at the Milken Institute, the London School of Economics and several World Economic Forum events. During his time at Edelman, Blake served as managing director, Corporate & Public Affairs (Edelman, NY); and initiated his global executive positioning role while based in Paris.

He sits on the Boards of GLAAD, Classic Stage (Theater) Company in New York, and BOFFO (an arts non-profit). He serves on the Steering Committee of the World Economic Forum Partnership for Global LGBTI Equality. He holds a Master's in Government from the London School of Economics. “I started at Edelman 21 years ago, a few weeks after we first launched the Trust Barometer,” said Blake. “At the time we were doing one report a year. This past year we produced 12 Trust Barometer reports and Trust is now at the center of conversations by leaders across institutions. It has been incredible to have a ring-side seat as it’s grown in scale and importance. I’m excited to now help it expand its impact, supporting institutions as they seek to build and maintain trust during these skeptical times."

About Edelman

Edelman is a global communications firm that partners with businesses and organizations to evolve, promote and protect their brands and reputations. Our 6,000 people in more than 60 offices deliver communications strategies that give our clients the confidence to lead and act with certainty, earning the trust of their stakeholders. Our honors include the Cannes Lions Grand Prix for PR; Advertising Age’s 2019 A-List; the Holmes Report’s 2018 Global Digital Agency of the Year; and, five times, Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work. Since our founding in 1952, we have remained an independent, family-run business. Edelman owns specialty companies Edelman Data x Intelligence (research, data) and United Entertainment Group (entertainment, sports, lifestyle).