Whose “Most Trusted” List Should I Trust?

Smithfield Foods is the most trusted trustworthy company in America. Followed by Xcel Energy and then Nike. 

No, wait a minute: It’s USAA, then Amazon.com, then Costco. 

But then again, the most trusted names in U.S. business are Apple, Google and Coca-Cola.  

I don’t know whose list to believe in: Trust Across AmericaTemkin Ratings or the Harris Poll Reputation Quotient (RQ) Study, respectively. (And I’m sure there are many more.) 

But I do believe the conclusion that many of these studies have reached: Overall  trust in corporations is slipping, despite growing “reputation management” efforts by the companies themselves. 

In fact, according to the Harris RQ study, only two in 10 Americans have a positive perception of corporate reputation. Edelman’s 2012 Trust Barometer pegged “trust in CEOs” at a woeful 38 percent, down 12 percent in a single year. 

Social media have shifted the power of transparency from corporations to consumers. If communicators really want to improve their “trust scores,” they should focus on their customers and not lists.