Building trust while building your project

Posted on Jun 26, 2017

A recent Insights West Poll ranked how Canadians feel about a variety of professions. Nurses are the most respected with 92 percent of respondents feeling very or somewhat positive about the profession. Doctors and scientists tied in second place at 89 percent and engineers were close with 84 percent positivity about the profession. STEM professionals in many capacities are among the most trusted by Canadians.

However, when I spend time in communities with project proponents I see a different side. One where respect of and trust for scientific folks is often greatly diminished. Therefore, I suggest the capacity in which a STEM professional is working greatly influences individual trust and respect.

The 2017 Trust Barometer indicates only 50 percent of Canadians trust businesses and 41 percent trust the government. If an engineer or a scientist is in a community talking about a project, it is almost always at the request of a business or government department, and this could be a reason why these professionals are not widely trusted.

Interestingly, the Trust Barometer also reports that 77 percent of people agree, “a company can take specific actions that both increase profits and improve the economic and social conditions in the community where it operates.”

So how do you, already in a trust deficit, make your time in the community really matter? The information you share needs to be clear, simple and well-delivered. Missing any of these factors only serves to galvanize the opposition.

“Sharing complex scientific information with non-scientific audiences is not always easy”

But using story-telling and speaking with not at, or above your audience, makes a tremendous difference.

If you want more help, PR Associates’ The Science of Communication ™ workshop provides STEM professionals with the skills and communication tools they need to build trust while delivering complex information to non-technical audiences.

Give me a call, and we can discuss media training opportunity for you.

PS:  In case you are wondering — Lawyers, Building Contractors, Priests, and Journalists were ranked the lowest, but that’s for another day!


Megan Helmer, Vice President of PR Associates, a national communication company based in Vancouver, Toronto & Ottawa.

At PR Associates, there is no learning curve because health and science communication is all we do. As experts and seamless extensions of your team, we use science storytelling to clarify complexity, capture imaginations, shift mindsets, and stimulate investment interest.

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