Why You Need to Care About Who Americans Trust

Do you think traditional news media remains a viable means of communicating during a crisis?  Maybe it’s a lower priority than you think.

A 2016 Gallup poll surveyed Americans on trust levels for various institutions and found that former bastions of trust like newspapers and TV news now rank among the least trustworthy.

Why does this matter? One reason is that you need to know putting crisis communications out through channels like TV news or your area’s paper may well be less effective than publishing through your own website or social media channels. This is situational, but purely from looking at the poll results you can see that a small business in crisis could actually lose credibility by using certain types of media to push their messages out.

The fact that less than 50% of Americans have any decent amount of trust in the majority of the groups included in the poll should come as a wakeup call for those groups/industries as well. Regardless of whether you think you’re doing fine, and even if you’re actively trying to do good, be trustworthy, etc., a lack of public trust means changes are needed. It’s one of the uncomfortable facts crisis management experts often have to bring up in conversation with clients, and through it can be tough to accept we can tell you from experience that doing so frees you up to objectively look at how you lost, and how you might regain, that much-needed trust.

Erik Bernstein

P.S. by Jonathan Bernstein. This poll was taken in June 2016. One wonders where “the presidency” would rank if the poll was taken today.

Comments 2

  1. Marc Williams

    Good stuff Erik and Jonathan, I vaguely recall seeing this last year. I think you’re spot-on in regard to using your own channels, but I believe we have to build our own credibility over time through transparency and being a trustworthy resource. You’re tagline of ‘in the absence of communication…’ is something every communicator should have on their desk and think about in their daily work. It’s not always easy and there are often corporate pressures that prevent organizations from filling the ‘void’ proactively. Communicators have to ‘pick their battles’ and their issues as it’s not appropriate to communicate on everything. But on those key issues that are mission critical, communicators need to fill the ‘void’ before others start speculating on our behalf and we’re forced to play defense.

    1. Post
      Erik Bernstein

      Very much agree with your points here Marc. Modern communication is all about making yourself the best source of information so you can tell the whole story and not rely on others.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *