by Dejan Verčič
University of Ljubljana, Slovenia

Trust seems to be a Holy Grail of public relations, something to search for and aspire to in all relationships. If only would stakeholders trust organizations, employees their management, customers their brands, buyers their suppliers, financiers and investors their recipients, voters their representatives and so on and so forth; what a wonderful world it would be. Or, would it?

The whole modernity has been obsessed with a question: how can an individualised society be held together, what is a social glue that keeps us from falling apart? Trust was the answer, and that is why everybody seems to be so concerned with studies indicating trust in all institutions steadily declining worldwide (well, not everywhere and not equally, but that is already a whole another story).

Good relationships are trusted relationships, and they are the backbone of excellent organizations and great societies alike. But: what if the opposite is true?

Perfect trust is certainty, but creativity and freedom presuppose doubt, criticism and, yes, healthy distrust. Maybe we as humanity wouldn’t be in the environmental mess, rising social inequalities and political demagoguery today if we doubted and distrusted a little more yesterday.

Organizations shouldn’t be obsessed with chasing trust in all their relationships; what they should develops is an ability to navigate in the wide sea between trust and distrust as unstable equilibria. There are no final answers to eternal questions, there is no Holy Grail.

These are some of the issues that were discussed at the 26th International Public Relations Research Symposium BledCom 2019, that took place on July 4-6 2019 in Bled, and was attended by 146 academics and practitioners from 26 different countries on 5 continents.

The next BledCom will be on July 3-4, 2020, in Bled. The theme for 2020 BledCom is:
The impact of public relations on organizations and society.
CfP is available here