NEW YORK: Edelman's sixth annual Trust Barometer found that US trust in the media and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) increased from 2004 to 2005, while trust in the US government dropped slightly. Opinions of US business remained the same during that period.
Fifty-five percent of US respondents gave NGOs the highest trust ranking. Businesses followed, with 48% giving it the highest ranking, and the government was third with 44%. While the media's percentage jumped from 24% last year to 33% this year, it was still the least-trusted institution.
The media and government have not reached above a 50% trust rating in the six years that Edelman has done the survey.
"It's the job of the PR person to realize that NGOs are the fifth estate," said CEO Richard Edelman. "There are a few that are irreconcilably against business, but many of them are willing to be a so-called 'loyal opposition.'"
Despite the low trust factor given the media, 93% of respondents said they believed information they got from news stories more than information they got from ads.
"This study also shows very clearly that PR is 10 times as important as advertising when it comes to building corporate reputation. It's much more credible," Edelman said. "It's time [for companies] to stop the obsession with spending 98% of your [marketing] money on advertising and start realizing that we offer a uniquely credible vehicle for reaching multiple stakeholders."
Among other findings, 43% of the French were more likely to purchase an American good because of US culture, and only 30% would be much less likely to do so. Conversely, 29% of US respondents would be much more likely to buy a French good because of that country's culture, and 39% would be less likely.
While Edelman said there might be some politicizing behind those figures, he added that the "trust deficit" between countries was a real cultural phenomenon. "But both sides have a major incentive to make this work," Edelman said.
This year's Trust Barometer tracked the attitudes of 1,500 respondents around the world between December and January. The respondent breakdown was 400 from the US; 150 each from the United Kingdom, France, and Germany; 200 from China; and 150 each from Canada, Brazil, and Japan. Edelman chose college-educated respondents with a household income of more than $75,000 or equivalent who were between 35 and 64 years old.