Edelman Public Relations firm CEO Richard Edelman says CEOs and spokespersons become the faces and voices of a company when it finds itself in the news.
"I think there's a new expectation. It's also caused by the availability of communication 24/7, and people speaking back and forth to each other on Twitter, Facebook, et cetera."
The 11th annual 2011 Edelman Trust Barometer shows that trust dropped across all institutions in the United States — business, government, non-profits and media. And don't get Edelman started on rolling television news channels.
"You know, trust in media has declined substantially in both the United States and in the UK, and I think that's exactly attributable to this politicization kind of louder, less-objective view that media takes. And maybe it enhances their repute with the narrow audience, but the broader group just says 'a pox on all your houses'."
To re-earn trust after a crisis, the poll finds that safeguarding customers and employees ranks highest — even more important than the actual stability of the company.
"The smart company recognizes there's great skepticism — the financial meltdown of establishment institutions. You have to say things many more times. And also listen to your audiences and respect what they have to say and be responsive."
Search engines are the place people go first for information about a company, followed by online news sources.