Building Trust in a Cynical Age

More than a decade ago Richard Edelman, head of the world’s largest independent public relations firm, created the Edelman Trust Barometer, a tool designed for c-level executives to gauge trust.

Since then studies by Edelman and others as well as public reaction to various business and industry controversies  suggest that CEOs aren’t trustworthy. People looking for authenticity tend to gravitate to those in similar circumstances, not their superiors on mahogany row.

So, in this cynical age, how does a company build trust?

Edelman offered these four trust drivers:

1. Customers: Delivering quality products, top-notch service and good
value.

2. Reputation: Paying attention to your corporate reputation, having a
strong position on social issues and being known as a good place to work.

3. Leadership: Being known in your industry for delivering on promises
and taking leading positions.

4. Local Familiarity: Having a local presence, proximity and connection.

Edelman’s trust drivers are somewhat intuitive, or even obvious, but I think these principles can get lost during the daily pursuit of strategy, tactics and results. To borrow the Ford Motor Company’s old slogan about quality, trust is job one.

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