This year, it’s academics, experts, and industry analysts we trust — as for a “person like yourself?” Not as much — but in health, it is different.

The Edelman Trust Barometer for 2010 finds that specialists are the most credible sources for information about companies. Edelman cites a ‘trust rebound’ since last year, except for general news media, including radio news, TV news, and print news which are seen as less trustworthy year-on-year.

Conversations with friends and peers also lost ground as a credible source of information on companies.

What’s most striking this year is that consumers’ views on corporate reputation aren’t based primarily on the quality of goods and services provided by the firm or their level of innovation. Top-of-mind are “transparent and honest practices,” and whether the company is one that “I can trust.”

Global citizens say the most important factors for bolstering corporate reputation are:

  • Transparent and honest practices, and a company I can trust, both cited by 83% of global citizens.
  • High quality products and services, 79%
  • Communicates frequently, 75%
  • Treats employees well, 72%
  • Good corporate citizen, 64%
  • Prices fairly, 56%
  • Innovator, 48%.

Edelman also found that multiple information sources enhance credibility. Their recommendation is to “build a mosaic of trust by cultivating a wide circle of expert spokespeople, communicating through variety of channels.”

Health Populi’s Hot Points: The recession has driven people to information sources they can really, truly trust. This survey points to a sobering global consumer looking for assurance and safety. Overall, citizens globally are looking for transparency and authenticity, and expertise in the issues they care most about.

For U.S. health citizens, in this shaky era of health coverage and complex information, expertise is key. In the first iteration of Edelman’s Health Engagement Barometer, trust and authenticity were found to be the most important factors driving health engagement with companies involved in health (think: health plans, pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers, health-y consumer goods, etc.). The most credible sources of health expertise were found to be doctors and health professionals (“mine” or others), my pharmacist, scientists and researchers, and leading medical centers.

But nearly as highly credible as these professional “experts,” Edelman’s HEB found other “experts” in a health citizens’ life highly rank: my friends and family who may be experts on “me,” and “people like me” in terms of sharing a medical condition or other personal values. When it comes to trust in health, there are many flavors of expertise.

As Edelman recommends based on the 2010 Trust Barometer results, connecting with citizens via many channels and touchpoints builds credibility. That holds especially true for health in 2010.

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