Public Trust and Confidence

Recent Study Results and Implications for Strategic Communications

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Categories: Communication Strategy, Techniques & Tactics

In the fall of 2011, Booz Allen Hamilton launched the National Trust and Confidence Index Study (NTCIS) to assess the key elements that shape public trust and confidence, and its implications for public outreach, engagement and information campaigns. The NTCIS also reviews how public trust and confidence is measured once defined and implemented. This groundbreaking research seeks to answer three important questions:

  1. Do indices related to public trust and confidence exist (both past and present, within the United States and internationally), and if so, what are their key characteristics?
  2. What are national thought leaders, be they individuals or institutions, focused on with regard to understanding and measuring “public trust and confidence”?
  3. Once developed, how can actual NTCIS be used by government, commercial and not-for-profit organizations to baseline their current level of public trust and confidence, and what areas might the NTCIS suggest need improvement?

The study investigators will share their insights on the process and key ingredients for constructing an effective index, such as:

  • The qualitative and quantitative research conducted to inform the index development process.
  • How the overall index is structured.
  • Who the various players are in the construction of the index, from data collection and design to distribution.
  • What the primary topic areas are, such as perceptions of competence, forthrightness, consistency in messages or timeliness in the release of information.
  • How the index will be adapted and used in the field and across government, commercial and not-for-profit organizations.

Through a series of directed questions, Don Beck, Ph.D., and Tim Tinker, Ph.D., will engage participants in brainstorming ideas, and offer suggestions for how the NTCIS can be applied to their strategic communications and public relations work and clients.


Beck has more than 25 years of survey research, and brand and marketing experience supporting a wide variety of private and public sector clients. He has designed, led or evaluated branding and market research programs for the Internal Revenue Service, Department of Energy, Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense, Social Security Administration and the General Services Administration. His private sector clients have included Citibank, Wells Fargo, Microsoft and Micron. He specializes in the use of customer survey research to guide brand and marketing campaigns. He is an expert in stakeholder analysis, survey research, social network analysis and communication strategy.

Tinker works in both public and private sectors, including homeland security, defense, emergency preparedness, public health, health care, energy, environment and more. He successfully helps clients anticipate, prepare and practice science-based and system-wide risk and crisis communication.


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