Should Your CEO Be Your Spokesperson?

Only 30% Find CEOs Credible.

According to the 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer, very few actually trust a CEO to report on their organization.  Despite the fact that the CEO is the leader of a company, researchers found that only 30% of people found CEOs to be the most credible source of information about a company in crisis.

There seems to be a growing gap between institutions and their leaders.  There is an ongoing redistribution of influence from traditional authority figures towards employees, peers and authorities with credentials.  Based on prior misdeeds and corporate distrust, there is an expectation for higher standards for truth and integrity in all levels of business.

The results show that CEOs are rarely the most trusted source in reporting about their organization in areas of customer engagement, business practices, business integrity, and business purpose.  Technical experts or peers were found the most credible sources:  68% of respondents said that “people like you” or “a regular employee” were the most credible source of information about a company.  This finding grew from 59% in 2009 to 68% in the most recent study.

When companies were surveyed internally, the results were similar.  Only 42% of regular employees trust their CEOs.  Similarly, 67% of employees found technical experts to be the best spokespeople for their company.  Companies also found employees to be the most credible source about working at the company.

While a CEO may not be the overall most trusted spokesperson for a brand or company, in some areas, they still remain the most credible in areas that include innovation, finances, and senior leadership accomplishments.

Knowing who is the most credible spokesperson is essential for sustained business success.  Choosing the right person to talk about the different areas of your business can help build trust and loyalty to your brand, as well as increase overall business transparency.  Encouraging inclusive management can help disseminate information throughout your organization and help build trust on all levels.  In a time when trust in organizations is at a low 22%, building trust is vital in order to have a sustainable business and increase market share.

The Edelman study is the 13th annual global research study surveying 26,000 respondents to identify attitudes towards corporate trust.  Researchers look at not only how people trust and view companies but also how they view company leaders

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