On 19 May 2022, the EACD organized a virtual event that presented the key findings of the Edelman Trust Barometer 2022 and brought together a panel of reputation experts and communications leaders from key industries that gave their reflections on this important report. You can find the event’s recording here.

The key presentation was done by Arent Jan Hesselink, EMEA COO, Edelman, and Tim Weber, Executive Director / EVP Edelman. The panellists were Cathrine Torp and Marco Magli and they wrote a summary of these reflections:

Cathrine Torp, EACD’s country leader for Norway and is Communication and Strategy Director at The Norwegian Institute of Public Accountants.

Corporate messaging on social media doesn’t always convey trust. How do CEO’s balance personal and brand views?
As distrust is growing in society and facts from experts are being challenged, brands conveying corporate messages is not always welcomed. More direct messages with a personal touch from the CEO are often seen as more credible. Therefore, companies with leaders and experts that engage in the debate are more likely to influence the discussion. A message from a person is more likely to be perceived as authentic and genuine.

We in Norway are very fortunate with a very high level of trust – over 80 % of the Norwegian population trust the government. We should not take this for granted. Trust is a key for survival of democracies, it reduces transactional cost in society substantially and makes the society a better place to live in for all. It’s sad to see increasingly polarized debates, where it is less and less acceptable to challenge a political or philosophical view without risking “cancelation”. This will over time erode trust – a pilar for our democracies. We all have a role to play. It starts with respect for the person having a different viewpoint, and a common ground of what the facts are.

Information quality is a key to trust. As an institute that represents all the public accountant in Norway, we see the value of independently verified facts every day. All companies now need also to report formally on their actual performance on sustainability issues (ESG) in order for users to have the same confidence in ESG-reporting as they do in financial reporting, independent confirmation from the auditor is necessary. We are moving towards stronger and stronger integrated reporting. Non-financial information can no longer be viewed in isolation and need to be given the same level of quality to upkeep transparency and trust in companies and in the financial system.

Marco Magli, EACD’s country leader for Italy and is Communications and External Relations Director at Federdistribuzione

What is the evolving role of industry associations in supporting the dissemination of trustful information?
Looking backward to these past two decades, disintermediation was the paradigm that, step by step, became the framework of our societies: decline of media, pervasive arise of social media (do you remember “the long tail of conversations” during the “blogging-era”?), lack of trust in political parties, etc. As a result, brands and companies jumped to the frontline, experiencing how much difficulties to be in touch with societal issues – i.e. what happened following the Seattle movement. Then, they learnt how to catch opportunities, like nowadays the example of corporate activism. Brands increased disintermediation, the use of owned-media, the campaigning to stand for societal development. The positive side of all this will be a direct contact with their own customers and to contribute to a better future. The Edelman Trust Barometer shows it: the distrust for media, government and NGOs (!) and a call for CEOs and Brands to step up.

This is not necessarily bad news, because business is a vital part of our societies. However, we should change our point of view: a big crisis hit, the perfect storm that mixes a global pandemic and a scary war within the heart of Europe. So, in the last couple of years we all experienced that businesses cannot be alone. The role of organizations – like industry associations – is fundamental to help providing trustful information and support companies on business continuity.

In conclusion, communicators and marketers need to start reestablishing a balance between “disintermediation” and “intermediation”. This is a new activism is to sustain and restore the quality-information media scenario and to better leverage those organizations that can play a critical role in a new – differently globalized – world.


Watch the event here: