Transparency is the most important attribute for brands, says research

Being transparent is the most important factor when communicating to customers. This is according to the Effective Communication Index 2014 by agency MHP Communications, which found that 85 per cent of global consumers see honesty and transparency as crucial if an organisation is to communicate effectively.

Gavin Devine, CEO of MHP Communications, says: “Pressure for business to be open and transparent has been growing throughout 2013. This has been witnessed at a multinational level, most notably at the 2013 G8 meetings which focused on clarifying ownership structures of multinationals. Individual regions such as the UK, the EU and the US have seen a push for increased corporate transparency and governance continues to be hotly debated.”

You may expect social media to have a key role to play in communicating to consumers openly, but the Index shows that having a social media presence is currently seen to be the least important part of being an effective communicator (39 per cent). However, Devine comments: “Social media is rated far more highly in some emerging markets like Brazil and the hi-tech Middle East, where the traditional media is perhaps not always seen as free or unbiased. The role that Facebook and Twitter played in the Arab Spring shows that social media is a favoured and trusted medium. It is therefore vital in effective communications in these regions.”

What makes effective communication in 2014?

How does this differ between industry sectors?

Looking at how different sectors are seen by consumers, the retail sector performs best, closely followed by food and drink manufacturers. Devine points out that this does not mean that food and drink manufacturers are exempt from their fair share of negative headlines, the horsemeat scandal across Europe being just one issue that dominated the news last year.

The results also show substantial regional variations around the world and in different industry sectors, confirming the importance of local factors in effective communications. In Germany and the UK, retailers are seen as the most effective communicators, while the United Arab Emirates, often portrayed as a shoppers’ paradise, are in fifth place. Hong Kong residents voted transport companies as top of the crop, whereas in Germany and the US they came in last place.

Other key findings of the study include:

  • Three quarters of respondents believe that being a good employer is the key factor in being an effective communicator.
  • 69 per cent say a company needs to have a connection with the community.
  • 66 per cent want to see strong visible leadership.
  • 51 per cent say the key factor for effective communication is being a powerful brand.
  • In a crisis, 58 per cent of people think a quick response is the most important factor in communications. An apology in a crisis situation is more important in the UK than any other country polled.


Research consultancy Populus interviewed 6,052 adults online across six countries, UK, Brazil, Germany, Hong Kong, UAE and USA, between 24 September and 6 October 2013.

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