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How To Keep Selling While Saying You’re Sorry

April 20, 2010

Hello, Corporate America? We have a little problem. No one seems to trust us anymore.

According to the 2009 Edleman Trust Barometer, nearly two-thirds of the public (62%) have less trust in corporations than they did a year ago. To rub it in further, only 38% said they trust business to do what is right (a twenty percent plunge since last year, by the way), and a paltry 17% said they trust information coming from a company’s CEO. Yes, this is bad – very bad. But what is more disturbing is that these levels of trust are even lower than those Edelman measured in the wake of Enron, the dot-com bust, and Sept.11.

And who can blame them – these people, this “public” whom we keep referring to? The media feeds us a steady diet of alarming business news and corporate horror stories that only serve to hammer more nails into the coffin of corporate trust.

Just in the last couple of weeks, for instance, we have seen the horrendous tragedy unfold at the West Virginia coal mine of Massey Energy Company, where 29 people were killed in a blast on April 5 in the worst mining disaster in the United States in more than a quarter-century. According to federal records, Upper Big Branch mine was cited for more than 1,300 safety violations since 2005. Fifty citations came in the last month alone. You get the feeling that they weren’t all that concerned about worker safety.

So, how should corporations respond to such negative publicity? Should they act more sorry? Ashamed? Appear empathetic to the victims and their families? Resolve to put human safety at the top of their strategic priorities, no matter the cost?

Or should they just move on and expect everyone to get over it?

With humans, you can usually gauge trust by looking in the eyes of the person in question to ascertain some level of sincerity. But it’s not so easy with a corporation, where you are more often dealing with PR consultants who are spinning position statements and media impressions. These days, it’s the corporate web site that becomes the public face of the company, and it is here that we can get a glimpse into the corporate soul to decipher their honesty.

I decided to take a peek at Massey Energy’s web site to see just how they are handling this tragedy.

To continue reading, click here to head over to The High Calling Blogs.

And thanks to nAncY for the awesome photo!

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 20, 2010 6:26 pm

    hey…that photo goes pretty well with this post.

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