Saturday, June 29, 2013

Saturday Good Reads: Why We Don’t Trust Companies

Speaking from (too much) personal and professional experience, I can testify that massive amounts of information, data, and research exist on the subject of reputation – corporate reputation, to be specific. Public relations and marketing firms have practices devoted to reputation management. Book after book has been published on the subject. And who can quantify how many billions of dollars have been spent by companies seeking to improve their reputations?

It’s not exactly comforting to know that, after all of this effort and expenditure, people trust corporations (and CEOs) only marginally more than they trust Congress.

Which is the same thing as that they don’t trust corporations at all.

This past week, I read three articles by Charles Green at Trust Advisor, a consulting firm that focuses on the subject of trust. What caught my eye (and I have to say, my heart), was this statement: “Most companies confuse trust with reputation. They view it as a communications problem, something to be handled by PR, especially in times of crisis. Trust problems are addressed by amping up the messaging.”

That first sentence bears repeating: Most companies confuse trust with reputation.

Another way of saying that: if you have a reputation problem, the problem is not your reputation.

I went back and reread the article. And then I read Part 2 the next day, and Part 3 the day after that.

After 40 years in the organizational communications business, I can say that I have never read more common sense – and truth – than I did in these three articles.

It’s not about reputation.

It’s about trust.

Monday Update: 

Part 4: Why We Don't Trust Companies - The Solution

Top photograph by Alex Grichenko via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.


Rick Dawson said...

Sorry, but I do not trust Monsanto to do the right thing by me - or anyone else - and no amount of shaping the message will change that. I don't trust Congress to do the right thing by me, or anyone else, either - but I am under orders to pray for my leaders. I'll pray for Monsanto, but only as ordered to pray for my enemies.

Scott Couchenour said...

This is a great series for me at this time in my life, Glynn. Thanks for your faithfulness.