Bailing out the Trust Bank

October 15, 2009 at 8:41 am Leave a comment


Al Golin, founder of the "Trust Bank"

Al Golin, founder of the "Trust Bank"

BusinessWeek recently ran “The Great Trust Offensive” in their issue featuring the 100 Best Global Brands.  The article identifies trust as a brand asset, highly valuable and equally perishable. It cites an Edelman poll that finds 14% fewer Americans trust business and features a quote from Larry Light, CEO of brand consultancy Arcature: “Trust is what drives profit margin and share price.”

PR pros may respond to the article with a collective “no kidding,” but its numeric portrait of trust–statistics, effect on the proverbial bottom line–is essential. The article’s description of trust shifting from a PR priority to a marketing goal is also important as companies modify their messaging to address consumers’ deepest needs and concerns.

Despite the new measurements and emphasis, trust is not something that can be “ramped up,” “unveiled” or treated like a product. The best methodology remains the “trust bank,” coined by PR legend Al Golin and the crux of his book, Trust or Consequences. According to Mr. Golin, steady, sincere deposits in the trust bank pay dividends in:

  • Employee retention/recruitment
  • Customer relationships
  • Innovation
  • Branding

Continuing with the banking metaphors, accruing trust helps companies “save up for a rainy day” as public goodwill will sustain them during setbacks or crises.

Will companies “get it?” There was supposed to be a great trust awakening after Enron, Tyco and other corporate scandals early in the decade. The economic upheavals and corporate rogues gallery of the past couple of years have practically made us forget Ken Lay and Dennis Kozolowski.

Now the most traumatic recent lessons seem to be wearing off as Goldman Sachs faces a PR Katrina in the form of pending employee bonuses triggered by new multi-billion dollar profits. The Wall Street Journal reports that Goldman Sachs is mounting a “charm offensive.” Apropos of the times, it is a bailout of their trust bank.


Entry filed under: Branding, Leadership, Marketing, Public Relations. Tags: , , , , .

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