MIAMI: Chief executives can play a central role in embodying brand purpose as a means of galvanising employees and building trust with consumers, according to research by Edelman, the public-relations network.

Matthew Harrington, global chief operating officer of Edelman, discussed this subject at the 4A’s (American Association of Advertising Agencies) 2018 Accelerate conference.

His presentation was based on the results of the organisation’s latest “Trust Barometer”, an annual survey that relies on interviews with 33,000 people in 28 markets to determine who and what is trustworthy.

And Harrington explained that some 60% of the Edelman Barometer participants believe that CEOs are driven more by greed than a desire to make a positive difference in the world.

“There’s an opportunity here, particularly for the activist CEO, to connect on purpose for employees as well as external stakeholders,” said Harrington. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: Purposeful advertising and influencers dodge decline in public trust.)

Indeed, Harrington added, “One clear message coming out of our trust study: 64% of those we surveyed think CEOs should take the lead on societal issues.

“Building trust is viewed as a CEO’s number-one job. Businesses also must show a commitment to the long term.”

For marketers, he proposed: “It’s important to think about going beyond the business, connecting with the consumer, and localising trust-building strategies.”

Purpose-driven messaging, in fact, needs to be “informed and engaging”. To that end, brands need to partner with credible spokespeople who know the business “and then speak on [the brand’s] behalf”.

In such instances, the Edelman COO asserted, brand stewards should promote their purposeful messages internally as well as externally – to “speak up on key issues”.

They must also answer the question, “How are you really connecting with employees [and] giving them the permission to be ambassadors for the brand in the marketplace?

“Engage the entire organisation,” Harrington encouraged the 4A’s audience. “Talent can be the most powerful voice among all of our companies and our brands. And it’s where trust really can be built.”

Sourced from WARC