Public trust declines in both PR professionals and journalists

At PRmoment, we like to champion the PR industry, so it depresses us to find that that public distrust in the industry is growing.

A national survey conducted by PollSource, the online consumer polling service launched recently by media company DWPub, has revealed an overall decline in trust in public relations professionals over the last year as well as in journalists.

Media trust barometer:

Do you trust PRs/Journalists more or less than a year ago?

The poll of 1,000 people found 35 per cent of respondents trusted journalists less than they did a year ago, compared to only 1.8 per cent trusting them more and 35.2 per cent saying it had stayed the same.

The decline in trust for PR professionals was even greater, with 36.9 per cent of respondents trusting PR professionals less than a year ago, compared with 1.8 per cent trusting them more and 32.1 per cent saying it had stayed the same. Around 29 per cent of respondents have no strong feelings either way on trust in journalists or PR professionals.

It may be disheartening to be distrusted by the general public, but does it really matter? DWPub founder and Chairman Daryl Willcox says: "What the survey results mean for the PR industry depends rather a lot on whether you believe public opinion of the PR industry has any bearing on it. Some would argue that it really doesn't matter what people think of PR, regardless of declining trust in the industry PR professionals can still go out and do their job effectively.”

“However, others may consider that public perception of the PR industry has an impact on how the industry is perceived by all stakeholders, and a negative perception could temper the industry's growth and influence. For example, if there is a lack of trust in PR by the general public could this ultimately weaken investment in PR by brands? Personally, I am not so sure – especially as PR's remit is widening into digital and content marketing; areas where many brands are keen to invest.”

"One thing the figures do suggest is that there is a regional disparity among the results – Londoners are more likely to say trust in PR has increased. This may be something to do with the number of people employed in PR in London. Greater empathy with PR in London clearly has to be a good thing considering the commercial might of the capital.”


PollSource uses a river-sampling approach to interviewing where respondents are intercepted on sites they regularly visit. This survey was run on 19 May 2014 with a total of 1,000 respondents.

Click here for more detailed information on river sampling.