Why you need to earn trust

A new report, A World in Trust, produced by Echo Research in association with the International Business Leaders Forum, analyses the importance of investing in, and communicating about, corporate responsibility (CR) initiatives. It focuses on research that highlights the media’s growing preoccupation with CR.

A key reason that companies fail to put in place successful CR programmes is because they simply don’t put enough money into them, especially post-credit crunch. Other obstacles are shown in the chart below. 

Obstacles to CR advancing that were mentioned in the media



 

Research supplied by Echo Sonar

The report looks at the best (and worst) types of CR communication to demonstrate how organisations need to use PR to enhance their profiles. For example, it is good practice to be completely honest in all communications, even if this means admitting to mistakes. Conversely, obvious PR puffery and self-praise will be viewed with scepticism. 

 

What constitutes CR communication and reporting that will persuade and be trusted?

 

Research supplied by Echo Sonar

Discussing the findings of the report, Sandra Macleod, group CEO of Echo Research, says that trust and sustainability are "the twin issues of our time". Macleod believes that enlightened organisations recognise the importance of having business goals that help improve society, rather than simply focusing on turning a quick profit. She says: “A new language is emerging with the new thinking that is inspiring the best and most successful. Discussions about ‘values’ are now jostling with ‘risk’ in board rooms. ‘Authenticity’, ‘engagement’, ‘culture’ and ‘passion’ are starting to define the ‘corporate soul’ and ‘true north’ of organisations".

However, Macleod recognises the difficulties that organisations face when they try to improve themselves while supporting wider society: “It’s always the simple things that are the hardest. Single-minded commitment from all acting as one is easily said, difficult to achieve. Only when organisations actually think, do, behave and deliver in line with what they promise, will trust slowly rise again from its embers.”

Methodology

Echo Research and the International Business Leaders Forum partnered to produce a report analysing corporate sustainability and responsibility communications. Echo has been reporting on this topic for the last ten years, in which time it has analysed over 60,000 items from the business, national and international mainstream and social media, and carried out opinion research among more than 400 individuals. These included CEOs and chairmen of major companies, senior corporate CR decision makers, PR and communication professionals and other opinion leaders. Data has been gathered from the UK, US, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Spain, Switzerland, Australia, South Africa, the Middle East and Asia. For a full copy of the report A World in Trust contact Beth Taylor on betht@echoresearch.com or 0044 (0)1483 413633.