The Trust in Communicators study 2019 (#TiCS19) combines results of the European Communication Monitor 2019 from Germany, Italy and the UK regarding trust in different communicators and organisational advocates with a representative poll in the same three countries. Moreover, the research team from Leipzig University (Germany), Leeds Beckett University (UK), and IULM University Milan (Italy) have been interested in perceptions of the general population about public relations activities and whether this affects the trust in public relations and communication professionals.
The public poll highlighted that communication and PR professionals are trusted and recognised more highly in the UK than in Germany or Italy. However, the general public has a high-level of distrust in these professionals (see Figures below). A trust gap was identified between communications and PR professionals and journalists, but it was not as wide as expected and is closing.
Information about organisations is often spread by people who are not acting in a professional communication role – i.e. organisational advocates such as supportive customers (fans, brand ambassadors), experts in the field (academics, consultants) or activists with overlapping interests. The polls found that external experts are the most trusted of these advocates, but all are trusted more highly than communication and PR professionals (see Figure below). Efforts should be focussed on enabling these advocacy groups to promote the trust-building process.
The polls revealed that the general population has fuzzy perceptions about the goals and activities of PR professionals (see Figure below). Whilst communication and PR professionals misperceive the public’s opinion about them and overestimate public trust. These professionals also misjudge their role in the trust-building process and ignore public trust in external advocates.
The Trust in Communicators study 2019 was organized by the European Public Relations Education & Research Association and facilitated by Cision Insights and Fink & Fuchs It offers insights based on the comparison of two large empirical studies. Based on thorough academic standards, a representative poll among the general public in Germany, Italy and the UK was combined with a subsample of the ECM 2019 among 494 communication professionals in the same markets. The public poll samples the views of 3,130 adults aged 16-64.