Edelman 2018 Trust Barometer Results: If There Ever Was a Need for Ethical, Effective Public Relations, It’s Now

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

One great advancement of modern society is the ability to develop a methodology that let’s us gather and analyze data in order to provide a perspective or determine a direction on a specific topic or issue

Image courtesy of the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer web site.

These take shape as research reports and survey findings; but even today’s weather report and the Dow Jones Industrial Average are aggregations of data that help us make decisions and illuminate what’s happening around us.  In the case of the former example just noted, we might be propelled to buy or sell securities, and in the case of the latter, we gain the insight to perhaps bring an umbrella when venturing outside.

The other day, I decided to explore another data yardstick, one that addresses the very foundation of the public relations profession — and certainly many others — as well as the more encompassing concept of moral behavior.

The medium is the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, the annual report designed to gauge trust and credibility. Published by a division of the global communications firm, key findings from the recently-released report are beyond sobering, unquestionably alarming and frankly depressing.

Trust in the United States, the Barometer reported, has plummeted among the general population surveyed, pushing the nation down to the lower quarter of the 28 nations included in the study. Among those polled who ranked among the informed population, the findings were even more bleak: The United States ranked the lowest of nations surveyed.

Media organizations — for decades the standard for trust and accuracy — were battered, too.  According to the 2018 Barometer, the media for the first time in the 18 years of the report was listed as “the least trusted institution globally.”

This news story published by Edelman provides more details.  And, Edleman President and CEO Richard Edleman encapsulates the 2018 Barometer findings in this poignant comment from the Executive Summary.  “As we begin 2018, we find the world in a new phase in the loss of trust: the unwillingness to believe information, even from those closest to us.”

So, what can the public relations industry and those of us who practice and promote ethical, honest communications do in the face of the decline of trust in our nation and the media?


Here’s a start:

  • Adhere to established standards for ethical communication. If you need a place to learn, refresh or get started, the PRSA Code of Ethics offers a solid foundation.
  • Call out instances of erroneous or malicious communications. Remaining on the sidelines enables those bent on disseminating lies, conjecture and “fake news.”
  • Enlist others to lobby for responsible communications practices. Inspire debate among colleagues, family and friends.
  • Forward this post to everyone within your network and subscribe to future PRDude posts.

Well, kidding about the last item.  (Sort of.) For an alternative, forward a link to the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer.

Feel free to share your thoughts, of course, on strategies and tactics the public relations industry can initiate to reverse the decline of trust today.












Network. Network. Network. Why I Keep Doing It

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

Even at this stage of my career — 30-plus years in public relations and other communications disciplines — I still find it necessary to expand my network.

(Note to self: Where has the time gone? Can I get some of it back? Can someone develop an app for that?)

Yes, that's me in the center of it all, in my role as moderator.

Yes, that’s me in the center of it all, in my role as moderator at recent panel discussion. Photo credit: NAHJ Chicago Chapter.

Given the opportunity and time, I attend events and activities hosted by PRSA Chicago and other organizations. My mantra: Every time you can interact, speak, present, lead or learn, you grow as a professional.

Here’s a case in point. In late April, I moderated a panel discussion hosted by the Chicago chapters of the Hispanic Public Relations Association and National Association of Hispanic Journalists.  The theme: “PR Pros and Journalists Working Together for the Good of the Story.”

The dialogue was spirited, from the panelists and those who attended. Photo credit: NAHJ Chicago Chapter.

The dialogue was spirited, from the panelists and those who attended. Photo credit: NAHJ Chicago Chapter.

The event was hosted at Edelman’s Chicago offices and featured outstanding panelists from local broadcast news, the corporate sector and the agency side of public relations.

You can read my thoughts in this post published on a great industry resource, Hispanic Marketing and PR, a site I’ve contributed to before.  And, visit this page to get a more extensive visual perspective of the afternoon.

So, what did I gain from this exercise:

1.  Better insight on working with the media.

2.  Greater understanding of people who comprise the Hispanic demographic.

3.  Another opportunity to hone my presentation skills.

4.  Promotion of myself and the university research unit where I now manage public affairs.

5.  And, the ability to network with fellow public relations professionals and members of the media and make new friends.

Digital communications has changed the world forever.  And, as I noted in this post from last year, I’ve nurtured some great virtual friendships.

Still, to me, interpersonal communications offer so much more. After all, it’s impossible to shake hands virtually. But I’ll bet someone’s working on an app for that.



Three Things I Learned on Measurement (and More) at Today’s PRSA Chicago Breakfast

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

There’s nothing like a breakfast networking/panel discussion event to kick off the day on a positive, productive note.  Add “measuring the effectiveness of public relations plans” to the mix and it gets even better.prsa chicago

Earlier today, I joined a few dozen colleagues from PRSA Chicago for a breakfast meeting on this subject: “How Do You Know if Your Programs are Working?” The focus was on measuring the effectiveness of public relations programs — the bottom-line reason clients pay for our services.  The discussion featured these panelists:

K.C. Brown, General Manager of Cision Global Analysts
Andrew McCann, Product Marketing Manager, Salesforce Marketing Cloud
Craig Werlin, Senior Director of Sales Engineering, Spredfast

The conversation was moderated by Blagica Bottigliero, Founder, Zlato Digital LLC, and a final shout out to Edelman Chicago for hosting the event in their way cool offices on the 66th floor of the Aon Center.   Here are three takeaways from the discussion.

  1. Good PR Measurement = Better Understanding of PR.  There’s a perceived gap in the public relations arena: Clients have unrealistic expectations on what public relations can deliver, but the public relations industry “under-delivers” on its potential for effective communications.  More effective measurement can close the gap.
  2. Measuring Social in the Marketing Mix.  It’s widely accepted (so I’ve read) that public relations professionals dominate effective use of social media in delivering client messages.  So, it’s essential for public relations to measure the impact of social media as part of the entire integrated message.
  3. Cool Infographics, Are, Well Cool, But … Graphic artists who can design provocative infographic works of business art are in demand today because infographics work.  If the budget doesn’t allow it, a well-designed, simple data table (Column A, Column B) can also have a dramatic impact.
A "vintage" infographic, circa 1801.

A “vintage” infographic, circa 1801.

Of course, there was lots of other great insight, knowledge and opinions shared from the panelists, who all work at companies that provide distribution and measurement resources used by the public relations industry.  (Learned a new phrase: “Transgression analysis.”) As an aside,  I would have liked to hear from a senior practitioner who developed and executed a national integrated campaign for that perspective, and I was surprised that in a conversation on public relations measurement, no one mentioned the Barcelona Principles.

(If you’re not familiar with the Barcelona Declaration of Measurement Principles, read what The PRDude had to say in 2010:  Part onePart two.)

Finally, as noted, measuring whether a public relations campaign meets objectives is paramount. That holds true for pure PR programs that incorporate mostly traditional tactics (better known as “earned exposure”) or integrated programs that involve paid and owned messages.  We’ve come a long way from the days when a fistful of print clips demonstrated success.

For me, today’s breakfast also reinforced these thoughts:

1. The practice of public relations continues to advance, driven largely, of course, by technology; but also through its continued integration into the marketing mix.  As one panelist noted: “The consumer doesn’t care where he gets the message from.”

2. To stay vital, to stay relevant as a practitioner, I’ll need to keep abreast of advancements and best practices — and to learn how to use them.

What are your thoughts on the current state of measuring the success of a public relations campaign?