Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Who Are You Going To Turn To?

I believe that the role of business is to make the world a better place. It is clear to me that Governments are too unwieldy, too compromised and too distant from people to undertake this task although it was once left in their hands. The job requires focus, agility, optimism and the ability to understand people and how they can be inspired to undertake the transformational changes we need to thrive in the future. You can imagine my satisfaction when a recent Edelman Survey announced that the trend of people trusting business more than government continues. Unfortunately, this also means that the credibility of government has reached an all-time low, which is not good for any of us. In the United States, the difference between trust in business (53%) and government (38%) is the biggest since 1999 when the survey was first conducted.

Before you go off on a tangent thinking that this is an American phenomenon, the Edelman survey found that this level of trust in business is a global trend. Richard Edelman says, “Business is the most trusted institution of all in the less developed parts of the world and that’s remarkable. Why is this happening? Because business is bringing prosperity to those economies”. Certainly anyone who has worked with global companies, like P&G, know this to be true.

Another finding that pushes home the growing power of intimacy and empathy in making connections with people, is the huge trust that people place in others who are like themselves. Edelman looks at the question through the PR frame of the spokespeople who are trusted most, but there a wider implications for all kinds of communications. A ‘person like me’ turns out to be the most trusted spokesperson across the European Union, North America, and Latin America. In Asia, that ‘person like me’ is second only to doctors. We are all under peer pressure, literally!