Edelman 2010 Trust Barometer Reveals Jump In Trust For Business

Trust in business is rising slightly, however the public is still very cautious when it comes to counting on business to do the right thing, according to Edelman’s 2010 Trust Barometer, the agency’s annual “trust and credibility” survey.

In the survey, released today, 54 percent of respondents said they trust U.S. business to “do what is right,” an 18 percent jump from last year’s survey, which found trust in business at a ten year low.

“Trust in business has improved, but the patient has a long road to go for a full recovery…Companies will have to prove the skeptics wrong and show they can achieve both profit and purpose,” said Edelman president and CEO Richard Edelman.

CEOs experienced a jump in trust, as 31 percent expressed trust in information from a company’s CEO – up 12 points, from 19 percent last year. The 31 percent figure is still very low, however.

Not surprisingly, trust in banks is near the bottom of the list, declining from 71 percent to 33 percent over the past two years.

Trust in government rose 16 points since last year, to 46 percent, “one of the largest increases in trust in government among the countries surveyed,” according to the report.

That’s not to say people aren’t skeptical.

59 percent expressed concern that business and financial institutions will return to “business as usual” after the recession is over.

“There is some concern that business will return to old habits once the economy picks up. But the economic crisis, coupled with the rise of social media, has brought about a new style of leadership based on transparency and authenticity,” said Matthew Harrington, president & CEO, Edelman U.S.

Harrington added, “The recovery in trust in business and government in the U.S. is somewhat counterintuitive, given unemployment numbers and the fragile economy. But people have seen business held accountable – whether it’s a CEO being fired or prosecuted – and the stock market on the rebound.”

Not everyone may agree with that statement, as corporations not being held accountable may be one of the main reasons people distrust financial institutions and also may be responsible for uncertainty this week around re-confriming Ben Bernanke as Federal Reserve Chairman.

When it comes to the news media – trust is also down. TV news dropped by 20 points from last year, while radio news, newspapers and “information from friends and family” — usually a most trusted source — dropped by 14 points or more.

Social media fared much worse. Trust in information from sources including blogs, social networks, Wikipedia and Google News is low, with only between 10 percent to 22 percent expressing trust in information about companies obtained from these sources.

The 2010 survey sampled 4,875 “informed publics” in two age groups (25-34 and 35-64) in 22 countries. View the full findings here.