28 February 2022

Distrust threatens societal stability

GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communications and Media Adviser


One of the findings from the annual Edelman Trust Barometer survey is a cycle of distrust that is threatening societal stability both here in Australia and globally. The survey results were published on February 16th, a little over a week before Russia invaded the Ukraine.

Australia trapped in a cycle of distrust



The Edelman data focuses on trust in the key institutions of Government, NGOs, Business and Media and uncovers a failure of societal leadership that has made distrust the default among Australians. More than half of Australians see the Government and media as more divisive then unifying for society, while more Australians than not viewed business and NGOs as more unifying for society.

Looking specifically at media, the data shows trust has fallen across the board with traditional media faring the best but still only trusted by 48% of Australians, down 5 points. Search engines are down 4 points to 47%; owned media is down 5 points to 33% and social media is down 8 points to 24%. It is no surprise then that concerns about disinformation and fake news remain high with 73% of Australians worried about false information being used as a weapon.



The data also shows an erosion of trust in society’s traditional leaders, with only 43% of Australians trusting both government leaders and CEOs, each down 9 and 5 points respectively from 2021. In addition, a majority of Australians believe that journalists (65%), government leaders (61%) and business leaders (61%) are actively trying to mislead them by saying things they know are false or grossly exaggerated.



A majority of Australians (55%) said their default tendency is to distrust something until they see evidence it is trustworthy and 61% say Australians are incapable of having constructive and civil debates about issues they disagree on.

Societal leadership becomes a business imperative

The Edelman survey shows all stakeholders now hold business accountable for taking a stand on issues that align with their values and beliefs. Fifty-six per cent of Australian consumers will buy or advocate for brands based on their belief and values; 57% of Australian employees will choose a place to work based on their beliefs and values, and 64% of investors make financial decisions based on their beliefs and values.



This expectation for business to take a stand on social issues is putting greater pressure on CEOs to personally lead on change and be visible. Eight in ten Australian’s believe CEOs should be visible discussing policies or work their company has done to benefit society with external stakeholders.

Business poised to break cycle of distrust

Business is now also the only institution that is perceived as both competent and ethical – bestowing upon it a clear mandate for driving social change. Add to that the data shows employers continue to enjoy strong levels of trust with their employees, with nearly three quarters of Australian employees (74%) saying they trust their employer. Employers’ communications are also a highly trusted source of information. 70% of Australians say they trust communication from their employer compared to 63% for government, 58% for media reports with named sources and 51% for advertising.

If business is to become the institution that starts to rebuild trust in Australia, then its ability to provide high quality and reliable information cannot be overstated. The effective communication of ‘quality information’ was found to be the number one most powerful trust builder across all the institutions in the survey.

4 March 2021

Locking in the Trust premium

GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communication and Media Advisor Trust in Australian Institutions has surged during the Coronavirus pandemic to reach all-time highs.  This resurgence of trust means, in Australia,  the institutions of Business, Government, Media and NGO’s are all now viewed as competent where just 12 months ago only Business was seen to be so. Two institutions, […]

Read More
30 October 2020

Video with vim and vigour

GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communications and Media Advisor The camera never lies! A broad statement that still holds true despite the incredible advances in software to manipulate digital imagery. The cameras built into smartphones and laptops are amazingly sophisticated but are no guarantee that a video presentation will look good or be engaging. If you don’t […]

Read More
28 July 2020

Corporate Purpose during the Coronavirus pandemic

GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communications and Media Advisor, writing for the Winter 2020 Issue of Listed@ASX. What does the Coronavirus pandemic and the ‘new normal’, that is expected to emerge in its wake, mean for a Company’s purpose? As the pandemic surges across the globe many senior corporate leaders will, rightly, view the immediate purpose of […]

Read More
28 May 2020

Designs on Annual Reporting

GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communications. It is time to think about Annual Reports and then to think again. While an Annual Report must include content required by the Corporations Act and the ASX listing rules,that doesn’t mean we should limit our thinking to just meeting that objective. It is right and proper for the compulsory materials, […]

Read More
30 January 2020

Time to confront climate change

GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communications and Media Advisor Every Government, company and shareholder must confront climate change according to Larry Fink, CEO and Chairman of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager. In his annual letter to CEO’s, Mr Fink says a rapidly growing awareness amongst investment market participants of the risks climate change poses to economic […]

Read More
30 January 2020

Communicating in a crisis

GEOFF MICHELS, Senior Adviser, Corporate Communications One month in to 2020 and news headlines have been dominated by the bushfire crisis while the business pages have been reporting on the Australian retailing crises which has seen big brands literally shutting up shops, including the shock withdrawal of Kaufland from the Australian market. The crises in […]

Read More
29 June 2019

Leading with Purpose

GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communications and Media Advisor We are fast approaching the first reporting season under the 4thedition of the ASX Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations. An aspect of the new Principles and Recommendations, which we wrote about in our March 28th ‘Purpose for the Board’ blog, is the elevation of responsibility for linking a company’s […]

Read More
1 May 2019

The importance of good design

GOOD DESIGN is the difference between telling someone and showing them. It can be the difference between informing your audience or convincing them. A carefully composed image, an effectively executed graphic concept or a thoughtfully constructed layout can convert worthy content into memorable messages. We sat down with Campbell van Venrooy, a graphic designer with […]

Read More
28 March 2019

Purpose for the Board

GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communications and Media Advisor A listed company’s Purpose is now, very much, a matter for Board consideration. The latest edition of the ASX’s Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations makes it clear the Board is responsible for linking a company’s Purpose to its strategic goals. Principle 3 states a listed entity should instil a […]

Read More
31 January 2019

The importance of being purposeful

A well understood and expressed corporate purpose drives long term value. This is why purpose, as a driver of profitability, was a central theme of the 2019 letter from Larry Fink, CEO of Blackrock, the world’s largest investment manager, to the Board’s and senior managers of companies Blackrock has holdings in. It has also been the […]

Read More
28 February 2018

Doing it on Purpose

Giles Rafferty, Corporate Communications Doing it on Purpose Having a Corporate Purpose must be one of the oldest, latest things. There is good degree of noise around the concept of ‘Corporate Purpose’ and it may feel like it has become a buzz word, but it is much more than that and always has been. A […]

Read More
25 January 2018

Video: No longer a nice to have

Giles Rafferty, Corporate Communications Video is a critical part of the communication mix. Video engages an audience visually, aurally and emotionally. If a picture paints a thousand words, then a minute of video paints 1.5 million! There are some *mathematics that underpin this assertion but the point of such a statement is to focus attention […]

Read More
6 November 2017

Communicating in a Crisis

Geoff Michels, Senior Corporate Communications Adviser A crisis is an event or a series of events that adversely affects the health or well-being of employees, the environment, a community or the wider public, the integrity of a product or the reputation of an organisation.  A crisis can be operational (fire, an accident) or non-operational (workplace discrimination, […]

Read More
1 August 2017

The Evolving Board Role in Determining Corporate Culture

Philippa Ellis, Governance & Investor Relations Not a day seems to go by without some headline homing in on yet another corporate scandal with its genesis often attributed to a lax or loose corporate culture. In Australia it has most recently focused on the wealth management and life insurances divisions of the major banks. ASIC […]

Read More
1 August 2017

The Annual Report and the importance of storytelling

Philippa Ellis, Governance & Investor Relations “Stories are the most powerful communication tool we have bar none” according to Andy Goodman of The Goodman Centre. We all carry stories in our heads (pre-conceptions) that strongly influence the way we view the world. These stories cause our mind to be closed to alternative viewpoints even when […]

Read More
10 April 2017

Presentation Techniques for Senior Executives

Geoff Michels, Senior Adviser – Corporate Communications At FIRST Advisers we are frequently asked to coach senior business executives or managers on presentation techniques.  Generally it’s about coming across well at an AGM, or at a roadshow event or in presenting to audiences large and small.  There is also a significant demand for advice and […]

Read More
3 November 2016

Why Aligning your Corporate and IR Strategies Matters

VICTORIA GEDDES, ECECUTIVE DIRECTOR Nov 3, 2016 The starting point in the development of a company’s IR strategy is to understand the Corporate Strategy. Closely allied to this is an audit, for wont of a better word, of how this strategy is talked about within the company and communicated to external stakeholders. It is surprisingly […]

Read More
5 August 2016

Results should craft a convincing story

DAVID WHITTAKER, SENIOR INVESTOR RELATIONS ADVISER A recent survey presented at the National Investor Relations Institute (NIRI) conference in San Diego in June highlighted how giving investors useful qualitative information when presenting your company’s financial results can make all the difference to how well the numbers are received. The institutional investors surveyed by Edelman emphasised […]

Read More
5 July 2016

Short Attacks: The new wolf pack

VICTORIA GEDDES, ECECUTIVE DIRECTOR Those who have been on the receiving end of a short attack describe the process as akin to being at war, or being pursued by a pack of wolves, with the company’s very destruction their opponent’s goal. A short or bear attack, to make the distinction clear, is not the same […]

Read More
27 May 2016

Follow FIRST Advisers at the World’s Premier Investor Relations Conference

FIRST Advisers will be in San Diego next month at the premier global conference for investor relations professionals, staged by the US National Investor Relations Institute (NIRI). We will be posting live updates from our Twitter account and filing a post conference wrap up on this blog. The NIRI conference often provides a leading indicator for […]

Read More
12 November 2015

Why someone on the outside should draft that press release

FIRST Advisers Corporate Communications Some see it as axiomatic that the people within a company are best placed to draft a press release or other piece of external communication. After all, who better to write the news than those on the inside: the people who were responsible for it, were there from the beginning and […]

Read More
17 December 2014

The Value of Proactive PR

Outside major announcements like profit results or product launches, many companies find it hard to keep the media interested in what they are doing, especially with the attention span of the traditional media narrowing as journalist numbers fall and publication sizes shrink. It’s true that most companies don’t have significant announcements to make week-to-week or […]

Read More

Archives