Edelman's latest edition of its Trust Barometer predicted it would take the financial industry a decade to reconstruct its reputation following the crisis of 2008-09.
If the situation at Goldman Sachs is as described by New York Times op-ed whistleblower Greg Smith, a decade is optimistic. More importantly, the Trust Barometer also noted a significant decline in trust in government and business overall.
It's a trust gap smart businesses are looking to bridge. And that theme is right in the sweet spot of effective modern communications. Encouragingly, that theme is catching on universally, as evidenced by the following examples.
Unilever's CEO Paul Polman says, "Our version of capitalism has reached its sell-by date. Never has the opportunity for business to help shape a more equitable future been so great." Polman's SVP of marketing Marc Mathieu echoed the theme at a recent global marketing conference in New York City, urging the industry to make marketing "noble" again and reinvent it for "life, for today, and for generations to come."
Starbucks' CEO Howard Schultz rearranged his company's focus around employees and communities because they are linked intrinsically to business values. He affirmed that Starbucks would make a more concerted effort to be clear about its values because more engagement means more profit, which means more can be given back.
And, in last issue's Agency Roundtable, Ketchum CEO Ray Kotcher said, "More of our work focuses on internal change communication, change management, behavior, value systems, and culture because CEOs and the C-suite understand external reputation is only as good as the actions they take and the behavior inside the company."
This is certainly no time to be complacent, but it is encouraging that many corporations and brands are recognizing they must do the right thing and that doing good has to be the new mantra for effective, sustainable - and profitable - business.
It is even more encouraging that in-house and agency communicators are at the heart of making this aspiration a reality.