The Democratization of PR

27 Jan ’06

Richard Edelman, President and CEO of “the world’s largest independent public relations firm with 1,800 employees in 40 offices worldwide”, has written a post highlighting the growing role of the trusted voice – in the language of a survey, a “person like yourself or your peer” – in influencing opinion. Gist:

The most profound finding of the 2006 Edelman Trust Barometer is that in six of the 11 countries surveyed, the “person like yourself or your peer” is seen as the most credible spokesperson about a company and among the top three spokespeople in every country surveyed. This has advanced steadily over the past three years.

In the US, for example, the “person like yourself or your peer” was only trusted by 22% of respondents as recently as 2003, while in this year’s study, 68% of respondents said they trusted a peer. Contrast that to the CEO, who ranks in the bottom half of credible sources in all countries, at 28% trust in the US, near the level of lawyers and legislators.

Why the change, with increased reliance on those you know? The Edelman Trust Barometer shows clearly the deep trust void facing traditional institutions including business, government, and the media.

Quite apart from the broader social implications of the slow death of trust (or at least the traditional forms of it), this data surely points once again to the growth of community on the ‘net as a replacement for some of the old trusted voices, and dovetails nicely with a post I wrote earlier today titled “The Democratization of Advertising” on the emergence of the blogosphere, and other forms of personal publishing, as potent voices in the formation of opinion when it comes to the advertising of products and services.

Go read Edelman’s post – it really is powerful. Favourite line: “We are now at the point of reinventing the experience of communications, the essence of the Me2 Revolution.”

Via Rex Hammock, via Steve Rubel.

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