SINGAPORE: Corporate social responsibility and transparency are among the issues of key importance in shaping the reputation of companies in Singapore.

Edelman, the PR network, surveyed 5,075 adults in 23 countries, targeting people with a college education, in the top income quartile for their national age-group, and who regularly monitored the latest policy issues.

Transparency was considered essential by 80% of people in Singapore, surpassing the quality of goods and services, on 77%, as the number one factor impacting a firm's popular standing.

A further 78% of local contributors thought private sector players should combine profitability with serving society.

"Opinion leaders in Singapore have sent a strong signal to businesses," said Bob Grove, managing director, Edelman Southeast Asia.

"Companies that operate in this market need to deliver the full circle: transparent business operations, high quality products and profit alongside civil interests, in order to attain and maintain the trust of stakeholders."

"This demand for accountability has also set new expectations for corporate leadership."

The overall trust rating in business stood at 64%, while 90% of consumers had bought items from providers commanding their confidence during the last 12 months.

Moreover, 85% of panellists had recommended favoured organisations to others in this period, yielding word of mouth benefits for the firms concerned.

Elsewhere, 76% of the sample avoided making purchases from companies with which they were less enamoured, and 66% voiced such judgements to friends and colleagues.

Some 49% of shoppers holding a negative perception of organisations would believe critical information upon hearing it once or twice, but just 15% said the same relating to positive feedback.

However, only 27% of individuals adopting a complimentary view of these enterprises paid attention to unflattering commentary, while 40% accepted approving observations.

Generally, a majority of respondents need to be exposed to information four times, and through multiple channels, before regarding it as true.

When identifying spokespeople trusted to talk about companies, academics or experts of equal status claimed top spot, posting 64%, in-house technical specialists logged 59% and chief executives scored 58%.

Online news was seen as a credible source of similar insight, registering 85%, and RSS feeds generated 87%.

Radio received 77%, TV news secured 74%, search engines lodged 72% and official communications, including press releases and reports, recorded 70%.

Google, The Straits Times, Baidu, the BBC, CNN and CNBC were some of the media owners held in high esteem with the audience in Singapore.

"As Singapore's economy continues to grow at a steady pace, the trust levels across government and business remain high," Grove said.

"Based on the 2010 and 2011 results, we have seen that sentiment in Singapore is stable and consistent, offering businesses a reassuring predictability."

Data sourced from Edelman; additional content by Warc staff