Recently, I was invited to be a panelist to discuss Building Reputation: Trust Deficit in the World of Fake News.
the notes I prepared for myself (with some elaboration, specifically for this
The marketplace of reputation
is built on the currency
Reputation provides the
shorthand of trust – and becomes the lens by which we view the
When I joined Uber, we started with a trust deficit that cost us goodwill and the benefit of the doubt. For example: The #DeleteUber social backlash following the taxi strike in New York City. Uber sent out a tweet announcing its decision to suspend dynamic pricing after a taxi strike at JFK airport in protest of President Trump’s immigration ban. Uber was accused of trying to break the strike, leading to a #DeleteUber social backlash. However, the tweet was actually sent out over 30 minutes after the strike ended. Still, it fit the narrative of “bad boy Uber,” didn’t it?
Netflix is a brand that is almost universally liked by its users. We have thousands of shows but you probably love it because the specific shows that you love. You probably forgive us for the thousands of other shows that you don’t.
communication doesn’t occur in a vacuum – this is where the of the media
becomes vital. However, there is much to be discussed regarding the role of
media as The Fourth Estate. Which leads
Point 2: Fake news is possible
because it is possible to distrust the media.
that vacuum, bad actors fill the void with misinformation.
plays a key role and it’s why I have a keen interest in the survivability of
the media industry. My concern is that with increasing overheads and budgetary
pressures, some are veering very close to pay to play models.
So what are we doing about this?
Building & Safeguarding our reputation and building trust has become far more important amidst the noise and fake news.
We are also exploring models of becoming our own media channels – owned channels (I.e. newsrooms).
Given the Trust Barometer’s findings that the general public is (re)turning to the business sector to solve “big problems” it might not be surprising to discover that having the right focus matters for both a business and its leaders, for action impacts trust. 45 percent attribute a business’ contribution to the greater good as the reason that their trust in business has grown. Conversely, of those whose trust in business decreased, half cited a business’ failure to contribute to the greater good as the main driver.
I think there is a strong impetus for brands and organisations today to tap deeper into their brand purpose and corporate narrative – and communicate this through their leaders and employees. The Barometer’s findings reinforce this: The public is responding positively to CEOs trying to realize the dual mandate of profit and societal benefit, as CEO trust has risen substantially in the past five years to 48 percent.
At the same time, organisations and leaders need the help of their employees, whose trust levels (52 percent) are on the rise. Respondents are more likely to trust an employee compared to a CEO for information on treatment of employees (48 percent versus 19 percent) and information on business practices and crises (30 percent versus 27 percent).
A strong brand purpose and corporate narrative is also valuable for internal engagement and morale. When business—and more speciﬁcally when the CEO—is involved in societal issues, employee advocacy and engagement increases. When a CEO is engaged in addressing societal issues, an employee’s motivation to perform escalates by 22 points. Similarly, an employee’s willingness to stay working for the company climbs by 22 points, and inclination to recommend the company as an employer grows by 25 points.
According to Kathryn Beiser, global practice chair of Edelman’s Corporate practice, “Business can be a big part of the solution because it is apolitical, fast, and tracks its progress. Now is the time to lead from the front with the support of their employees and passionate customers. No longer can business leaders focus on short-term goals. The new model CEOs are taking action by addressing the issues of our time, and taking a personal interest in the success of society. Stakeholders expect business to have a solid and steady focus on financial returns, but also on actions around key issues such as education, healthcare and the environment.”
Given today’s increasingly fragmented media landscape, the rules of engagement have changed. Engagement that builds trust and reaches beyond the informed public must take into account the full universe of today’s content creators—not simply the traditional media.
A search engine’s ﬁndings are now the most trusted source of general news and information. Search engines are more trusted than traditional media by a measure of ﬁve percentage points—a gap that widens to eight points for Millennials. One’s “friends and family” are more trusted as content creators than journalists by more than 30 percentage points.
At the same time, building trust relies on a number of diﬀerent forms of engagement. In fact, while blogs, social media and traditional media interviews are all seen as fundamental to building trust in CEOs, communication via industry conferences is viewed with even more importance.
As mentioned previously, businesses need to also rally employees to become their brand advocates. Employees, whose trust levels (52 percent) are on the rise. Respondents are more likely to trust an employee compared to a CEO for information on treatment of employees (48 percent versus 19 percent) and information on business practices and crises (30 percent versus 27 percent).
One of the more surprising findings from the 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer was the swing in trust towards business.
Despite the general population’s skepticism of business, findings indicated that the sector had the best opportunity to bridge the trust gap:
Overall, respondents view business (61 percent) as the institution most trusted to keep pace with rapid change, far more than they do government (41 percent) and NGOs (55 percent).
80 percent say that it’s the responsibility of business to lead to solve problems (comparatively, 59 percent believe that it is the role of government to regulate).
A decisive 80 percent believe business can both increase its profits while improving the economic and social conditions in the communities in which it operates.
Globally, business also received the largest uptick in trust (5 points to 53 percent) among the four institutions, while continuing to close the gap on NGOs (55 percent) as most trusted.
For the sixteenth consecutive year, technology (74 percent) remains the most trusted industry.
Among the issues cited as most critical for business to address are: access to education and training, access to healthcare, protecting and improving the environment, improving human and civil rights, income inequality, creating or maintaining a modern infrastructure, and reducing poverty.
Perhaps unsurprising to many, business is also significantly more trusted than government in 21 of 28 countries, with large gaps in countries such as South Africa (44 points), Mexico (44 points) and the U.S. (12 points).
This new found position of strength for the business sector has also recharged credibility of the CEO as a spokesperson:
Findings found increased positive public response to CEOs trying to realize the dual mandate of profit and societal benefit.
80 percent agree that CEOs should be personally visible in discussing societal issues
72 percent who believe CEOs should be visible discussing ﬁnancial results.
Yet, typically most CEOs believe that their duty is to focus on the operational and ﬁnancial aspects of the company when communicating. This year’s Barometer indicates that the focus of CEOs is misaligned with what the general population believes to be most important. For instance, most say that CEOs focus too much on short-term ﬁnancial results (67 percent) and lobbying (57 percent). Equally important, 49 percent say that they do not focus enough on job creation and 57 percent say they don’t focus enough on positive long-term impact.
So, CEOs cannot just focus on operational and financial narratives – alone, they are insuﬃcient for fostering connection and building trust.
In a world where inﬂuence has moved to the mass, making the human connection through the story of personal experience and shared struggle is more important than ever. Almost eight in 10 say that hearing information about personal values is important to building trust in a leader. Just as important is hearing about the obstacles a CEO has overcome, their personal success story, and how their education has shaped them.