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Edelman-Credibility-of-Company-Information-Sources-Jan2014Traditional media and online search engines are the most trusted forms of media for “informed publics” looking for general news and information, according to the “2014 Edelman Trust Barometer.” But which people are the most credible when speaking about companies? Edelman asked respondents to rate the credibility of information heard from different spokespeople when forming an opinion about a company, with some interesting results.

(“Informed publics” refer to college-educated adults aged 25-64 in the top quartile of household income for their respective age groups and who are significant media consumers.)

At the top of the list, about two-thirds of “informed publics” said that they would consider the information they heard from an academic or expert (67%) or technical expert (66%) to be either extremely or very credible. Not far behind, 62% would find information from “a person like yourself” to be at least very credible. (Some other surveys suggest that consumer reviews are more trusted than expert reviews.)

Not surprisingly, these independent sources are more trusted than figures from companies themselves. Even so, a slight majority 52% of respondents said they would find information from a regular employee to be extremely or very credible, with that being a significant leap from the 2009 survey results (32%). Regular employees are more credible than CEOs (43%), whose credibility is up from 2009 (31%) but flat from 2013.

In general, the survey indicates that the CEO actions that would be most likely to build trust in themselves and their companies are:

  • Communicating clearly and transparently;
  • Telling the truth, regardless of how complex or unpopular it is;
  • Engaging with employees regularly to discuss the state of the business; and
  • Being front and center during challenging times.

Interestingly, a CEO having an active media presence is much less influential in this regard, suggesting that for all the talk about CEOs and their social media presence (pros and cons), that presence takes a back seat to other actions.

In other study results, Edelman reveals that family-owned businesses and SMBs continue to be more trusted than publicly-traded, privately-held companies and big business.

About the Data: The results are based on a survey of 6,000 “informed public” respondents across 27 countries; 500 each in the US and China, and 200 in each of the 25 other countries.

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