Peers as Credible as Experts and More than CEOs


Lise Michaud

For the first time, “a person like yourself” is as credible a source for information about a company as a technical or academic expert (all three rated at 60%) and far more credible than a CEO (37%) or the least credible spokespeople -government officials and regulators (29%). "This implies that the primary axis of communications is now horizontal or peer-to-peer, evidence of dispersion of authority to friends and family."

Trust in crisis

The 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals that trust is in crisis around the world in all four key institutions — business, government, NGOs, and media. Trust declined in 21 of 28 countries, the broadest declines since the beginning of general population tracking in 2012.

"To rebuild trust and restore faith in the system, institutions must step outside of their traditional roles and work toward a new, more integrated operating model that puts people — and the addressing of their fears — at the center of everything they do."

More than 33,000 participants in 28 countries responded to the online survey between October 13 and November 16, 2016.

We included links to other blog posts on this study, at the end of this post.

Some highlights of the 2017 Trust Barometer

Peers now as credible as experts

Employees are the most trusted spokesperson to communicate each topic. Employees, on average, are trusted 16 points more than CEOs on messaging around employee/customer relations (53 percent), financial earnings (38 percent), crises (37 percent), innovation (33 percent), industry issues (32 percent) or programs addressing societal issues (30 percent):

Credibility of leadership in crisis

- 37% rate the CEOs as very/extremely credible spokesperson in crisis.

- CEOs not credibile in 23 countries. Surveys shows a decline in all 28 countries.

- 29% rate Gouvernment Officials as very/extremely credible spokesperson in crisis.

Official sources are suspect. Percentage who find each sources more believable than its pair:

- Individuals (55%) vs Institutions (45%)

- Reformer (71%) vs Preserver of Status Quo (29%)