Repetition, Repetition, Repetition

Each February the Edelman Trust Barometer comes out and it really should be read by all involved in employee communications.

The Trust Barometer studies the concept of trust as it relates to business, corporate reputation and corporate communications among a very specific audience: college-educated, top quartile of income by age group, and follows business/news media and policy issues at least several times a week.

The key statistic that jumped out in the 2011 study was the importance of message repetition…

The more we hear something the more likely we are to believe it – 59% of respondents will believe the information they receive if they hear it 3-5 times. That will also apply to internal communications and reinforces the need for consistency in communication with employees, especially in times of change.

In addition, some recent research published by HBR showed that managers needed to ask employees twice (or more) to get them to do something. The study also showed that those managers without formal power (authority) deliberately planned their communications more carefully with little time between their first message and their second. In other words, they didn’t assume that one communication was enough to get the job done.

As an aside, the Edelman Trust Barometer says some interesting things about communication trends:-

  • Corporate communication these days must be about social purpose and the broader public interest not just about profit
  • We need new behaviours from corporate leadership. The Jack (Neutron) Welch style of leadership is being superceded by our need for ‘private sector diplomats’.
  • Finally, the increased cynicism in Western countries such as the US and the UK means that people have to be told something up to 10 times before they believe it.

Given all that research about the importance of repetition, we will tweet this blog at least three times!