That gut feeling you have that people hate politicians, government and the media? Turns out there’s something in it.

More than just something in it, actually.

After two years of turbulence the Edelman Trust Barometer UK stats for 2022 are essential if hard reading and should be studied carefully by public sector communicators.

There is some encouragement if you look hard enough.

It’s bad, really bad for politicians

Firstly, the bad news and there’s lots of it.

People don’t have a high opinion of democracy. 57 per cent feel powerless and only 31 per cxent think their vote influences anything.

People don’t have a high opinion of politicians, either. 59 per cent thinking they are more likely to mislead or lie.

They don’t have a high opinion of MPs. That’s fallen to 36 per cent trusting them.

It’s bad for government and local government, too

If you’re hoping that people are maybe angry with just some national politicians you’re out of luck.

Government has seen a collapse in trust over the last 12-months. Trust in government has fallen by 12-points in a year to 29 per cent.

But it’s local government that’s also taken a battering. Trust in this sector has fallen by 13 per cent to 35 per cent.

And it’s bad for media and social media too

People think the the media is even more distrusted than politicians. Just 22 per cent trust it – a fall of 13 per cent – and only 24 per cent trust social media.

Not only do they not like the message they don’t like the messenger, either.

Trust in Government and media has fallen by more than 10 per cent.

But hang on,what about the vaccine rollout?

Public sector communicators have played a starring role in encouraging people to take a COVID-19 vaccination.

Just short of 75 per cent of people have done so. Campaigns and activity planned by public health comms have played a massive role in this.

How can this be explained?

I’m not sure of the data on this, but my gut feeling is that people can separate the difference between the MP at the despatch box and the urge towards basic common decency.

What’s not so bad… internal comms

For me the beacon of hope on the Edelman Trust Barometer is on internal comms.

Overall, 76 per cent trust their employer and internal comms are the most trusted of any channel.

If they don’t trust politicians they will listen to the organisation they work for.

If that is the case then internal comms people need to be reminded that they are the most important communicators in the organisation.

Business is trusted

One that comes through is that people feel more able to influence a business rather than government where they feel more powerless.

As business is getting more concerned with acting on issues like climate change people are closer to those levers of change.

Of course, it also raises the prospect of being able to tap into local employers’ internal comms networks.

For the public sector, this cross-cutting into internal channels should be mandatory. The fire & rescue warning on bonfire night may well work an audience in the NHS, for example.

So, doesn’t it make sense to do that and also try and build links with the town’s biggest employers?

When your message and theirs overlap, surely there’s an argument that they can share an occasional message?

The Edelman Trust Barometer is a survey that examines trust and is now in its 22nd year. Field work in the UK was carried out in January 2022.

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