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In CEOs we trust

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Monday January 31, 2011 )

The older I get, the more cynical I become, probably as a result of what I do for a living. I’m questioning everything and everything I believe in is up for review.

People are not what they seem, businesses are not what they seem – it’s a common issue that is weighing upon us heavily. For example, the word “friend” has lost much of its meaning thanks to social networking.

The explosion of online media has also seen the activity of many companies unveiled to be not quite the squeaky clean image they portray. The availability of communication tools for the average consumer to then further communicate (and sometimes amplify or exaggerate) that information puts a whole new spin on the old saying of “good news travels fast and bad news even faster”. Companies are waking up to this.

The 2011 Edelman Trust Barometer Findings state that when a company is initially distrusted, over half of people will believe negative information about the company after just hearing it once or twice. Only 15% will believe positive information about a company if they’ve only heard it once or twice.

Nearly a quarter of people state they’ll need to hear that positive news 6 or more times to believe it – double the figure of two years ago – and among U.S. folks, 14 percent will need to hear it 10 or more times.

The key point here is that a good reputation, once marred, is hard to regain and it doesn’t take much for a negative view to be perpetuated, even if whatever is being relayed isn’t the truth.

Edelman says “trust has transformed the license to operate for business”.

The company also found search engines rank No. 1 as the place people go first for information about a company. So if a negative review about your company is in the first few results (whether deserved or not); it’s going to heavily impact your business.

Any interesting reversal of fortunes in the 2011 Edelman Trust Barometer Findings is that CEOs are now considered the top credible spokespeople globally whereas they used to be in the bottom two. Given that trust is such a fragile thing, then why the change?

Likely because of increased expectations now placed upon CEOs and the knowledge that if they aren’t transparent, someone will soon trip them up – and tell a bunch of other people too.

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