23 Apr 2010

Who do you trust? (Part Two)

The short answer to the headline is: Nobody. We don’t trust our friends, peers, the masses, companies, politicians, experts. No-one. We’re a very suspicious bunch these days. In fact, you probably don’t trust me now. Imagine that; you don't trust me telling you that we don’t trust people.

I wrote last week about how people are now leaking to Wikileaks rather than news organizations. I wondered did we not trust news organizations or do we choose to leak stories to Wikileaks because we know they'll publish it but we don't necessarily trust them either. Maybe we leak to one place and let others verify it. It seems, that this could be the case.

PR company Edelman does a trust barometer to try to get a picture on who’s trusting who in the business world. Their latest findings (if you can trust them – heehee) is that two years ago people trusted their friends and peers 45% of the time when they spoke about companies. Today, that’s down to 25%.

42% trusted viewed TV news as a credible source of news about companies back in 2008. Now only 20% do. Newspapers and radio have also experienced similar declines. And to come clean, I got this information from ‘Internetstrategidagen 2010’ that a colleague attended.

But of course, I didn’t trust it completely so I checked out Edelman PR and found an executive version of their Trust Barometer for 2010.

It seems that we need to hear the same message from four or five other sources before we really believe its true. This confirms what many of us believe; that integrated communication is the way to go.

But we also should be questioning if we can trust ourselves. Danish branding expert Martin Lindström has been working with Functional MRI scans (that’s brain scans to me and you) to see what people are really thinking. By monitoring brain activity when being exposed to a brand, it tells us how people are actually feeling about the brand. What we say and how we really think are two very different things.

Lindström’s book Buyology highlighted a great example where smokers were asked about health warnings on cigarette boxes. They all answered convincingly that the health warnings were good in that it made them cut down on their cigarette usage. But the brain scans showed the opposite happening. When seeing a health warning, it triggered the craving centres in their brain which led to the person actually wanting to smoke rather than stop. The entire health warning campaign to stop people smoking is actually having the opposite effect. Ouch.

And this goes back to another concern of mine. Do any surveys actually tell the truth? Can we really prove Return on Investment through surveys or focus groups? If we can’t trust our own rational responses and our emotional responses are subconscious, then who do we trust? Give me a brain scanner now.


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