Public Relations

What does the Edelman Trust Barometer mean for Public Relations?

Earlier this year, Edelman released its 19th annual trust barometer report – a survey of over 33,000 respondents in 27 countries measuring their trust across a number of institutions and organisations.

‘My employer’ topped the table as the most trusted institution with 75% trust, significantly more than NGOs (57%), business (56%) and media (47%).

But what I was most interested in was…

…Trust in news organisations

In terms of sources of news, Europe showed a low trust in social media at just 34%, compared to 44% globally. This is in comparison to 60% indicating trust in traditional media and 59% in search in Europe.

What is most shocking – although perhaps understandable in the current climate – is that 73% worry about false information or fake news being used as a weapon.

Source: Edelman Trust Barometer 2019, page 20

16 of the 26 markets (or countries) in the report showed a distrust of media making it the least trusted institution. The UK sits at 37% distrust, up 5 points from last year, with only six markets ranking lower.

In the UK, 29% of respondents said they read political news more than they used to and 35% said they were reading, watching or listening to more news in general than before.

What does this mean for PR?

Although people aren’t so trusting, they are still consuming news.

Building a strong reputation and trust between your company or client and its audience is more important than ever. People are becoming more cynical about news sources and checking what they read or hear.

PRs need to ensure they continue to share accurate, timely, honest news to build their brand’s reputation and reaffirm trust.

But part of the role might also come down to CEOs – 37% of people globally think that CEOs can create positive change towards fake news. So, it is vital that your leader is trusted and does the job well.

Source: Edelman Trust Barometer 2019, page 21

No hope for the future?

The other shocking part of the report for me was the respondent’s thoughts on their future economic prospects. Only 28% of the UK mass population believe they and their families will be better off in five years’ time. That’s the fourth lowest of all the countries and startlingly low compared to the global figure of 49%.

The UK press release on the report shows a pretty bleak outlook for the UK. 7 in 10 Britons feel that life is unfair and two-thirds that the soci0-political system is broken.


There are plenty more insights to take away from this year’s report. You can read the executive summary and top findings here or check out the full report here.

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