How the private sector can lead during the current COVID-19 crisis 

The world is in the midst of an unprecedented crisis. Every single country will be impacted negatively by the Coronavirus, and every business, from sole traders to publicly listed corporations must learn to survive in our new reality. Yet as strange as this new world is, the golden rule still exists – trust is key. 

To help our clients to act in the most appropriate way during this time, Edelman commissioned a Trust Barometer Special Report on Trust and the Coronavirus. This 10-country study was conducted from March 6th to 10th in the UK, Italy, Germany, France Brazil, Canada, Japan, South Africa, South Korea, and the U.S. The findings focus on information flow, media channels, spokespeople and expectations of business during the pandemic. 

While the study did not include Ireland, the findings are still relevant to companies based here. Together with our counterparts in other countries, we in Ireland are also dealing with the effects of this international pandemic. We at Edelman hope these findings will help to inform you and your business at this difficult time. 



  • • 78 per cent of respondents to the global report expect business to act to protect employees and the local community. 
  • • 79 per cent expect business to adapt its operations, including remote working, cancelling non-essential events, reducing direct contact, introducing contingency plans and business travel bans. 
  • • 73 per cent expect business to adapt HR policies, including encouraging employees with symptoms to stay at home, offering paid sick leave and stopping at-risk employees from coming to work

What does this mean for you? 

Businesses are expected to do “the right thing” by staff and wider society in the current climate. In Ireland, this can be supported through special measures introduced by the Irish government to deal with the current crisis. 


  • • Seven in ten people are following Coronavirus news in media at least once a day, with 32 per cent saying they are checking several times a day. 
  • • 74 per cent worry that there is a lot of fake news and false information being spread about the virus. 
  • • 63 per cent of respondents said that they would believe information from their employer after one or two exposures. In comparison, 58 per cent said the same for information from a government website and 51 per cent for information from traditional media. 
  • • This aligns with data we have from Ireland. The 2020 Edelman Ireland Trust Barometer showed that “my employer” was the most trusted societal institution with 72 per cent of respondents agreeing, compared to 41 per cent for government and 37 per cent for media. 

What does this mean for you? 

Employers are expected to update information regularly on COVID-19, with 63 per cent asking for daily updates from their employer. 

What information should be shared? 

- Employees want information on what they can do to avoid bringing the virus into the company, steps they can take to avoid spreading the virus, how many of their colleagues have contracted the virus, and what the company is doing to win the battle against the virus. 

- They want to get the information via company emails or newsletters (48 per cent), posts on the internal company website (33 per cent) and phone/video conferences (23 per cent). 

- The information should be based on communications from scientists, doctors, the WHO and local health authorities, for example, Ireland’s Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan and HSE CEO Paul Reid. 


  • • After health authorities, people said they trusted their employers (62 per cent) most to respond to the crisis effectively and responsibly, ahead of trust in health insurance companies, schools and educational facilities, and the government. 
  • • In fact, government was actually seen as far more effective when it partnered with business. There is twice as much trust in a combined business/government effort than in government combatting the virus alone (45 per cent versus 20 per cent). 

What does this mean for you? 

As a business, think about what help, support or advice you can offer to government, your stakeholders and your community at this time. 

Businesses must: 

1. Protect employees, customers and the local community 

2. Communicate trustworthy information daily 

3. Partner with government to respond effectively to COVID-19 


Edelman is supporting businesses and organisations looking to better understand the COVID-19 pandemic and its public health implications; manage communications with employees and customers; and receive guidance on strategies and policies for effective preparedness and response efforts.

Please complete the below form to speak to Edelman's COVID-19 advisory team: