The Edelman Trust Barometer is a worthwhile research report released annually.
Simply, it ‘takes the pulse of the people’ in terms of whom we trust, and how much we trust them when it comes to business, government and the media. The global report is broken up into regions and countries so we can easily compare not just year-on-year, but region versus region and country versus country.
According to Edelman, unlike reputation, which is based on an aggregate of past experiences with a company or brand, trust is a forward facing metric of stakeholder expectation.
One of the consistent key findings of the Trust Barometer research – and I emphasise the word consistent – is that the most trusted sources of information for an organisation are both internal technical experts and independent third party experts, academics and the like.
This being the case, why then don’t we see many more companies and organisations putting their experts out in the marketplace to communicate with customers and influencers? Why don’t we see a lot more company experts on social media and/or publishing content via blogs, whitepapers and ebooks, podcasts, webinars and online video?
Ditto aligning with credible third parties (not celebrities!) to help educate and empower customers by arming them with relevant knowledge, information, insights and perspectives.
My message to senior management:
- Empower your internal experts to create and publish original content that will be interesting and insightful for customers and influencers (relevant, of course, to your business and the products, services and expertise you sell).
- Encourage them to become active on social media thus providing a credible human face for the organisation.
- Get them out on the speaking circuit and in the press (help them prepare for the experience, of course).
- Partner with academics and credible third-party experts and respected industry commentators – content creators with credibility and engaged audiences: Get them involved as active participants on behalf of your organisation!
Expert visibility program
These activities should not be undertaken ad hoc or in ‘willy nilly’ fashion; your ‘Expert Visibility Program’ should be just that, a program that’s planned strategically and executed with passion and purpose over the long term.
Only then will your organisation reap the benefits of having expert individuals – real-life human beings, not corporate ‘drones’ – to connect with customers, spread your brand story and build goodwill with the marketplace over the long term.
Oh, and by the way …
Given the CEO is perennially mistrusted as a spokesperson for an organisation according to Edelman (in Australia, the figure languishes at 33 per cent), why then don’t more companies scrape the veneer off their bosses, get them out of the shadows of the boardroom and put them out in the public domain more, especially on social media and via online publishing platforms.
Don’t just speak to journalists, with highly-polished key messages in hand. CEOs and senior executives need to be out there communicating more frequently, openly and honestly (no spin folks!), directly with the public.
Building trust in the C Suite won’t happen over night, but at least steps can be taken strategically to rectify the situation by building the trust constituents have with the leaders of an organisation.