Canadians' deep cynicism towards leaders and brands impedes business growth

NATIONAL Public Relations' report calls for businesses to re-engage Canadians

TORONTO, Aug. 15, 2016 /CNW/ - In its second Bold Thinking Report (, NATIONAL Public Relations finds Canadians' attitudes towards businesses and governments mired in deep cynicism, prompting reluctance to trust leaders or brands. Overcoming this cynicism is a key business challenge, as strong relationships are fundamental in an increasingly transparent world.   

The Bold Thinking Report applies NATIONAL's Belief Based Behaviour research, a unique application of digital ethnographic analysis, to understand predominant values that influence Canadians. Authors Julien Coulter, Vice-President and Head of Strategic Planning and Michael Mahoney, Senior Strategist at NATIONAL in Toronto, say the study serves as a canary in a coal mine to help organizations understand how values influence perceptions.

Researchers analyzed 44,000 online conversations over one year across five social networks and found:

  • 91 per cent of conversations had strong expressions of cynicism
  • 75 per cent of conversations included fairness as a prominent value
  • 61 per cent of conversations indicated authenticity was key to appearing fair


Canadians feel they have little influence over the choices of key decision makers that impact their lives. They feel let down by "the system" that isn't delivering its promise of economic growth, security, and the freedom to make their own choices. This sentiment cuts across demographic groups, from students graduating into a shaky job market, to retirees who question the sustainability of healthcare and retirement plans.

The study found Canadians attach importance to two predominant values – fairness and authenticity – in assessing the politicians and companies they support. The value of fairness is an expectation that those in positions of power will act in the best interest of impacted individuals and not out of personal or corporate interest. Its companion value, authenticity, relates to alignment between an organization's positioning and stakeholders' perceptions of what that organization stands for and the actions it takes.

Understanding this bi-focal values filter – whereby Canadians evaluate what they perceive through the lens of these two values – is the key to helping leaders and organizations cut through the cynicism to build deeper and more meaningful relationships.

"Cynicism is a cancer that eats at relationships and is not sustainable," says Kim West, Chief Client Officer in Toronto and partner at NATIONAL Public Relations. "People don't want to just buy something, they want to buy into something. More and more, people will support companies and leaders with whom they feel they share common values. By delivering on expectations for fairness and authenticity, businesses and leaders can develop better practices and communicate in ways that resonate."

About NATIONAL Public Relations

NATIONAL Public Relations connects clients to the people who matter most; delivering the right message, at the right time. Grounded in research, insight and deep sector understanding, we bring together teams of sector and category experts from across our network to provide creative communications solutions that move people in thought and actions. For 40 years, NATIONAL has been at the centre of issues and industries that matter, leading change for today and tomorrow. 

NATIONAL is Canada's leading public relations firm, serving clients across a wide range of sectors, with offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Saint John, Halifax and St. John's. The NATIONAL network also includes NATIONAL Equicom, the industry's foremost investor relations and financial services communications practice; healthcare specialists AXON Communications, with offices in New York, Toronto, London and Copenhagen; Madano, a strategic communications consultancy based in London; and SHIFT Communications, an integrated communications agency with offices in Boston, San Francisco, New York and Austin. NATIONAL Public Relations is part of RES PUBLICA Consulting Group, and is affiliated internationally with public relations firm Burson‑Marsteller, a WPP company. For more information about NATIONAL, please visit our website or you can follow us on Twitter.

SOURCE NATIONAL Public Relations - Toronto

Video with caption: "VIDEO: Kim West, Chief Client Officer in Toronto and partner at NATIONAL Public Relations and Julien Coulter, Vice-President and Head of Planning, discuss the filters necessary to ensure fairness and authenticity.". Video available at:

For further information: or to schedule an interview please contact: Scott Anderson, Manager of Media Relations, NATIONAL Public Relations, 416-420-9909,

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