Consumers don’t trust what CEOs are saying
According to a new global survey from communications firm FleishmanHillard, employees are nearly three times more credible on average than company leaders.
The specific question asked was: “Now thinking more generally, in a time when more and more fake news is circulating about companies, what sources of information do you find most credible when sorting facts from fiction about a company?”
Thirty percent agreed that employees who work in the company are the most reliable source, just behind the top answer, knowledgeable friends, family and colleagues, 34 percent. Leaders of companies scored 11 percent.
The expectation for credible corporate communications on average ranks at the bottom of consumer expectations across all countries. At the same time, the study found consumers looking for corporations to play a more active part in helping shape society. Companies (and their CEOs) were found to be most credible when they are talking about their performance and impact on their communities, but least credible when talking about value and customer care.
FleishmanHillard said the findings underscore a need for a “more authentic narrative” about the value companies deliver to consumers, including what actions they take as corporate citizens.
“CEOs must be an intrinsic part of this — engaging on every level and not just a boardroom fixture,” stated FleishmanHillard in its study. “Companies should also consider giving employees more support and scope to act as brand ambassadors, since they tend to be more credible than social media channels or corporate PR machines.”
The 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer released earlier this year similarly found the credibility of CEOs dropping to an all-time low. Fear of job loss due to the state of trade and automation was likely behind some of the drop in credibility, the study found.
Edelman found employees, on average, are trusted 16 points more than CEOs when it comes to messaging around employee/customer relations (53 percent), financial earnings (38 percent), crises (37 percent), innovation (33 percent), industry issues (32 percent) or programs addressing societal issues (30 percent).
- World’s Leading Companies Failing Authenticity Test – FleishmanHillard
- Authenticity in an uncertain world – FleishmanHillard
- 2017 Edelman TRUST BAROMETER Reveals Global Implosion of Trust – Edelman
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Has the increasing distrust in corporations and institutions weakened messaging from retailers and consumer brands? Should management give employees a louder voice in retail communications or should it be up to CEOs to take a more vocal role in public discourse?