All the News Is Bad in Edelman’s Trust Barometer Report

Trust is down across the board and around the world

In case you missed it, Edelman released its 15th annual trust and credibility survey yesterday, and the news is almost exclusively bad.

The firm surveyed 33,000 people in 27 countries to determine that trust is down pretty much everywhere in every way. In summary, a majority of those respondents think:

  • The pace of “innovation” and general change in the business world is too fast
  • The primary motivator for that change is pure profit, no matter what a company’s CSR report says
  • The government should be more aggressive in regulating businesses across industries

It’s the very opposite of America’s 2014 election results.

Here’s the video, released today:

Some obvious conclusions: most people around the world don’t trust “Big Business” or CEOs; respondents in developing countries are more likely to think such companies are ultimately good-faith actors; GMOs and Big Data remain big sticking points under the “innovation” umbrella.

The results we find most interesting:

  • Respondents’ trust in tech-based industries declined noticeably thanks, at least in part, to well-publicized privacy violations and data breaches
  • Trust in government increased slightly between 2014 and 2015 (but again, you wouldn’t know it from our election results)
  • In order to earn trust, respondents say that businesses must be as transparent as possible in the following ways:

edelman graph

One finding, however, sticks out above all others in our eyes: readers now see search engines like Google, Yahooo and even Facebook as their primary sources of news.

More significantly, readers trust these data sources more than they trust any given news organization or “traditional media” in general.

Of course, much of the news one encounters in a standard Google search is traditional media. But the point is that, if it shows up in search results, it’s legitimate — and it’s more likely to attract those invaluable eyeballs.

Americans and others around the world don’t go to CNN.com or the front page of the Wall Street Journal when they want to learn the latest about a given topic; they just search for it online.

This is very good news for public relations campaigns aiming to increase visibility without relying strictly on big-name media placements. Whether it’s good for anyone else remains to be seen.