Some important numbers for you if you’re in the public sector trying to communicate to people.

A majority of people trust you.

Survation have published some UK-specific survey numbers on trust for the public sector:

  • 81 per cent trusting the NHS
  • 70 per cent Scottish Government
  • 56 per cent Welsh Government
  • 54 per cent UK Government
  • 52 per cent local government
  • 48 per cent Northern Ireland Executive

Interestingly, trust for the organisation you work for at 64 per cent scores highly. So, get the message to that big employer’s internal comms team and you can have your message even more trusted.

SURVATION: polling says the UK public sector is trusted

Figures showing trust for information on COVID-19

News media is less trusted

The BBC remains the most trusted source of broadcast news media with no national newspaper title getting past 39 per cent. The Sun is bottom with 14 per cent. Frustratingly, local news media isn’t there.

COMSCORE: People are heading to news sites

Anecdotally, people are visiting news sites less but that’s not borne out in the numbers.

New Europe-wide data from Comscore would appear to show the immediate search for news from news sites hasn’t diminished in the UK.


YouGov: People trust scientists not politicians

Sky News published YouGov stats that showed trust for politicians was low, but the trust in UK Government scientific expert Chris Whitty high. This chimes with long established pre-lockdown data that says our trust in politicians is low. Journalists score overwhelmingly negatively in the trust score.

Reuters Institute: News organisations are trusted

While journalists individually appear to fare badly in other polling news organisations as a whole fare better. In total, 57 per cent of UK people trust them according to the Institute’s 28 April 2020 data.

However, councils fare less well on the yardstick of how they are responding to COVID-19 with 36 per cent approval compared to 92 per cent NHS and 54 per cent Government.

Ipsos MORI: Journalists are best at holding Government to account

From a collection of data, there’s a few things you need to know if you are public sector.

On balance, more people think that journalists are doing a good job than a bad one. In my timeline, some vocal people are criticising the performance of reporters at the daily news conference. But the UK population don’t all see it that way. For them, they are the best at holding Government to account.

Ipsos MORI poll asking whether people think the organisations mentioned (journalists, MPs, people I follow on social media etc) have done a good job of holding the government to account on how it has responded to the coronavirus

So what does all that mean?

  • Firstly, if you’re public sector thank you and keep up the good work. It’s tempting to be deflected by the handful of the hard to avoid who hate everything you do and will fill part of their day telling you. They’re not representative.
  • Internal comms is powerful. It doesn’t have to be yours it can be anyone’s. There’s big trust towards the organisation you work for.
  • People are still heading to news sites in large numbers compared to their pre-lockdown habits but they’re not trusting all they read.
  • Politicians are not the people to be putting up for interview if you want people to trust what they are saying.
  •  Journalists are not trusted but they are getting the most credit for holding the Government to account.
  • Local government needs to do a better job in telling people what it is doing in response to COVID-19 but people get and value what the NHS do.

Picture credit: Documerica / Flickr

Thanks to Dan Slee for this article which has been adapted from his original post. Dan is a member of the CIPR Local Public Services Committee. He works in social media, PR and digital communications in the public sector. He is also co-founder of comms2point0.

Additional support during the coronavirus outbreak can be found in the CIPR Local Public Service Committee’s Resource for Communicators.

By ciprlps