Global Trust Higher for Traditional than Online Info Sources

edelman-media-info-sources-trust.jpg32% of “informed publics” in 20 countries around the world say they trust traditional information sources a great deal, representing a 10% rise from 29% in 2011, and remaining ahead of online sources, which rose 18% from 22% to 26% of these respondents, according to survey results released in January 2012 by Edelman. Social media showed the largest growth in trust of the various media sources, with 14% citing a great deal of trust, up 75% from 8% in 2011. And the proportion showing their faith in corporate sources of information has also jumped, rising 23% from 13% to 16%.

The report defines informed publics as aged 25-64, college-educated, in the top 25% of household income per age group in their country, and reporting significant media consumption and engagement in business news and public policy.

Overall Trust in Media Up

Trust in media rose from 49% to 52% of informed publics worldwide, although remained below half for the general population of the 25 countries surveyed. Among the US informed public, the rise in trust was more pronounced, up 67% from 27% to 45%.

Other institutions did not far as well, though: among informed publics globally, trust in government fell 17% from 52% to 43%, while trust in business and trust in NGOs both fell 5% (from 56% to 53%, and 61% to 58%, respectively). Trust in all institutions was higher among informed publics than among the general population.

3-5 Times a Charm for Skeptics

edelman-skeptics-repetition.jpgData from the “2012 Edelman Trust Barometer” indicates that 63% of the global informed public needs to be exposed to information about a specific company 3-5 times in order to believe it to be true.

Interestingly, the proportion that needs to hear something more than 6 times is on par with the proportion needing to hear it only once or twice (both at 19%).

Business Performance Lags Expectations

Although two-thirds of the general population respondents say that it is very or extremely important for a business to listen to customer needs and feedback, only 36% say that specific companies are performing very or extremely well at doing so. Similarly, while two-thirds cite the importance of offering high quality products or services, less than half say companies are meeting their performance expectations. Other disparities between business importance and performance include companies placing customers ahead of profits (37% points) and communicating frequently and honestly on the state of business (31% points).

Other Findings:

  • The US informed public’s trust in government rose from 40% to 43%, one of the few countries surveyed to demonstrate a year-over-year increase in trust in the institution. According to a report released in January 2012 by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), Americans are more satisfied with services provided by the US federal government than they were a year ago, with citizen satisfaction up 2.3% to 66.9 (on a 0-100 scale) for 2011. The improvement, however, comes on the heels of a large decline for federal services, when citizen satisfaction tumbled nearly 5% to 65.4 between 2009 and 2010. At present, the federal government is 5 points below the lowest-scoring private sector economic segment, information at 72.3 – an improvement over a 7-point gap in 2010.
  • Although 65% of general population respondents globally say that it is very or extremely important for government to communicate frequently and honestly, only 16% say that their government performs very or extremely well in this category. According to the US “2011 Federal Digital Communications Report,” though, 2011 was a record communications year for the US government. In fact, in 2011, federal agencies that used the GovDelivery Network, which cross-promotes their content with other government organizations, dramatically expanded outreach: the top one-third of federal agencies leveraging the network saw an average increase of 86% in new subscribers.

About the Data: The Edelman results are based on an online survey in 25 countries with over 30,000 respondents. There were 1,000 general population respondents per country aged 18 and older. There was an oversample of informed publics, with 500 in the US and China and 200 in other countries. Trending data for informed publics was for those aged 35-64.