Business breaks through as the most trustworthy institution in latest global stats

Published On: January 14th, 2021Categories: Black Vanilla, PRBy

Trust is arguably one of the most important factors in building a reputation, which is essential for becoming a successful organisation. Our clients trust us to maintain their reputation and their identity and to make an impact in the world. It can take months, even years sometimes, for institutions to gain that trust. But what happens when you throw a global pandemic into the mix? 

Today the Edelman Trust Barometer for 2021 was launched. It isn’t surprising to hear that people’s trust in all four institutions measured has decreased dramatically in the last six months, almost undoubtedly driven by the impact of Covid-19.

Unsurprisingly, government organisations globally have lost the most ground, closely followed by the media and NGOs. There is, however, a glimmer of hope. Edelman’s latest report shows that business has become the main trusted institution with a 61 percent trust level globally. Interestingly, 68 percent of people now believe that CEOs ‘should step in when the government does not fix societal problems.’ This shows that now, more than ever, there is an added pressure on leaders to remain trustworthy, ethical and competent when communicating with employees, clients and the wider community where a lack of trust in our governments are leaving people worried, anxious and nervous.

So what can we as PR professionals do to help? Our main focus is to support and work alongside CEOs and employers to shape messages, sharpen the narrative and steer a programme of clear communication and stakeholder relations. 

The PR role as ‘reputation guardians’ has arguably never been more important.

Under the CIPR code of conduct, PR professionals must maintain the highest standards of professional endeavour, integrity, confidentiality, financial propriety and personal conduct. In our industry, our role relies heavily on establishing and maintaining relationships with clients or on behalf of clients through communication. To achieve this efficiently and effectively, a high level of trust is required. 

The report revealed that trust in traditional media has reduced, and Edelman posed the question of whether news organisations are currently seen as biased. Fifty percent of people agreed that ‘journalists and reporters are purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false or gross exaggerations’ and that ‘most organisations are more concerned with supporting an ideology or political position than with informing the public.’ Businesses have the opportunity to take the lead to deliver their own content but it must be underpinned by an ethical, accurate and authentic approach. 

In PR, our role is to work with clients to create content that is purposeful, helpful and informative, meaning you have full control over what your business puts externally – this is owned media. Businesses should continue to focus on how they communicate reliable, trustworthy information to employees and, as an extension, the wider community. Instead of waiting on other sectors, like the government, businesses now have the rare opportunity to be at the forefront and bring back the trust that has been lost.


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