October 12, 2020 Key takeaways from the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer (Australia)

By Melinda Jennings

round red and white Trust signage

Cast your mind back to the beginning of 2020. It was a simpler time – before we knew the term ‘social distancing’, the best lighting in our homes for Zoom calls, and who Carole Baskin is.

It was also a time where many Australians faced uncertainty and hardship. The 2019-20 bushfire season (which peaked in December and January) was the costliest natural disaster in Australian history.

The devastating effects were felt around Australia. Rural properties were destroyed, over a billion animals lost their homes and lives, the tourism sector flailed, and air quality dipped to hazardous levels.

It was this Australia that responded to the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer. Conducted in October-November 2019 and February 2020, the Edelman Trust Barometer surveyed 34,000 respondents to gauge their trust levels across various fields.

So how did trust in Australia look back then? And, importantly for content marketers and businesses, how can these learnings be used to build trust with customers?

Download the full 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer for Australia (PDF).

1. Australia’s trust in companies

According to the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer for Australia, respondents didn’t see any sector as being both competent and ethical at the same time. NGOs, for example, were seen as ethical but not super competent. While the business sector was seen as largely competent, they were also judged as unethical.

This is incredibly important for businesses, because 76% of respondents said ethics are more important than competence when it comes to trusting companies. Nearly half (49%) rated integrity as the most important factor, a clear winner against ability (24%), dependability (15%) and purpose (12%).

Learnings for companies

Clearly this means competence is overrated and businesses can stop striving for quality output, right? Not exactly. It does mean that if you’re not focussing on ethical practices as a business, you should be.

At Avion Communications, we take our ethics seriously. We even revisit our values once a year in our brand planning day. This benefits us in two ways:

  • As a team, we make sure we still identify with our values.
  • Our values stay front of mind, meaning we actually practice what we preach.

Avion’s core values are integrity, creativity, compassion, making a difference, and positivity. What ethics does your business live by, and do your customers know about them?

2. Australia’s trust in environmental matters

In the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer, 89% of Aussies said they were worried about the environment. Unsurprisingly, 78% flagged bushfires as a major concern, and 76% said they were worried about droughts.

As a company that’s passionate about sustainability (having worked for Plastic Free July and 350.org, to name a few), this one hits close to home for us.

Learnings for Australian companies

With natural disasters ramping up in Australia and across the globe, it’s clear that many people are ready for some systemic action against climate change. The incredible student-led school strikes that have been held across 2019 and 2020 drive this point home even further.

Australian companies can lead the charge in various ways, including:

  • Rallying for governmental action against climate change.
  • Committing to reducing organisational carbon footprints and aiming for zero net emissions.
  • Supporting not-for-profits and movements within the sustainability sector.
The Avion Communications team at the September 2019 climate strike in Melbourne

3. Australia’s trust in media information

Unfortunately, the majority of Australians (55%) who responded to the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer worry that the media provides untrustworthy information. Even more Aussies (74%) are concerned that false information or fake news is being used as a weapon.

Learnings for Australian companies

While these statistics focus on the media, Australian businesses can still learn something. Consumers are evidently more critical of the information they receive. It’s important for companies once again to lead the charge in ensuring their communications are clear, honest, and factual. Not only is Google exploring more fact checking tools, which in the future could mean authenticity becomes an SEO ranking factor, it’s also a matter of ethics.

Building trust through content marketing

It’s so important to establish trust with your consumers. Content marketing is a huge part of that.

Whether you’re trying to get your core values across, touting your support for a cause like sustainability, or ensuring your communications are trustworthy and factual, it can be hard to get it right.

Avion Communications’ team of specialist copywriters are passionate about creating clear, dynamic, and trust-building copy and content marketing strategies. Talk to us today about how we can help you and your business.