One of the key questions during the COVID-19 crisis for CEOs and executives is: how important is trust and how does that impact company reputation? And a new special report answers that question.
According to the Edelman special Report- Trust and the Coronavirus it says that businesses should be a source of reliable and timing information.
Among the people surveyed in the 10-country study, respondents say that “my employer” was the most trusted institution over businesses in general, and the government and media.
So, it is important for companies to be clear and concise when it comes to corporate and employee communications. Employers need to provide credible sources of information and under the importance of trust.
During the COVID-19 outbreak, it has never been more important to maintain a trustworthy presence and positive online reputation. The key findings of the study found:
- The most credible source of trust in corporate reputation is employer communications
The Edelman Trust Barometer found that while government and media has the most challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, ‘my employer’ was seen as the most trusted of all invitations.
63% of people said they would believe information from their employer after one or two exposures, versus 58% trust of a government or public health websites. And shockingly over one-third of people said they would never believe social media if that was the only place they had seen that information.
- Mainstream news organizations are the most relied-on source of information
The study found that more rely on mainstream media outlets to provide them credible sources of information. That’s nearly twice more than rely on global or national health organizations like World Health Organizations WHO or the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
There is a change between the younger and older generations too. Young people are just as likely to rely on social media for their information as mainstream media. (54 percent and 56 percent respectively). And, those aged over 55 say that mainstream news outlets are three times more reliable than social channels.
- Scientists and MDs are the most trusted spokespeople.
People are more likely to trust scientists and MDs and less than 50 percent of people trust government officials or journalists. This shows that it is important to have credible and trustworthy spokespeople during a crisis.
Eighty-five percent of people want to hear more from scientists and less than politicians. And nearly 60 percent of people worry that the crisis is being exaggerated for political gain.
- Frequent and regular updates are the best.
Employees are looking at their company to provide frequent updates on the ever-changing situation. In fact, 63 percent of people want daily updates. Where there has been major COVID-19 outbreaks – such as South Korea, Japan, or Italy – 70 percent of people are looking to media outlets to provide updates at least once a day.
How important is company reputation and trust during a pandemic?
The outcomes of the study really highlight the importance of trust and corporate reputation, as eight of the countries surveyed say that “my employer” is better prepared for the virus than my country.
People want to see long-term collaboration between government and business. In fact, the study shows that there is twice as much trust as a combined business and government effort than each one tackling it alone.
There is perhaps an unsurprising reliance on the corporate sector to make the right decisions at the right time. For example, the NBA making the decision early on to suspend the season meant it was possible for other sports, music events and conference organizers to follow suit.
The low trust in the media and government means that businesses will have to step up and provide credible sources of information. By making decisions based on facts and science it will allow companies to build their trust and corporate reputation.
It’s time to focus on communication
Organizations are focusing on corporate communications and support for local communities. It shows what they are doing to support staff, customers, and stakeholders at this key time.
Unexpected disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic caught many unaware and the impact on reputation will be seen in the long-term. Communications that are considered “tone-deaf” will continue to be called out for not being appropriate.
Drivers of corporate reputation and increased trust will continue to be their employees. How they are treated by the company by keeping them safe and putting them ahead of any profits will inspire them. Research shows that employers who are communicating this as part of their corporate values are seeing higher levels of trust.
An experienced digital PR, marketing and social media marketing strategist, Claire leads PR strategy and delivery at Igniyte across multiple countries and sectors.
With 16 years’ experience in marketing, communications and PR, she seamlessly directs all elements of B2B and B2C online PR to gain high-ranking positive coverage for our clients in regional, national, international and specialist online media – and she helps ensure that any risks are managed and mitigated.