Survey puts contractors at the bottom of customers' trust factor twomeows

Even the media ranked higher as a trusted source of news and information for federal agencies than their contractors, according to the most recent Marketing for the Public Sector report.

When it comes to who government agencies trust, one survey puts their contractors at the bottom.

That was a most sobering piece of information that came out of the 2022 Marketing for the Public Sector report, which was presented at the annual GAIN conference Tuesday.

GAIN is produced by Government Marketing University. The Marketing for Public Sector report was produced by Market Connections. Washington Technology, GMarkU and Market Connections are all owned by the same parent company in GovExec.

With that necessary disclosure out of the way, back to the findings of the Marketing for the Public Sector report that received 1,222 responses from federal decision-makers and other key employees inside agencies.

Government contractors were distrusted by 23% of respondents as a source of news and information. Much worse even than the media. Industry-specific publications were distrusted by only 10% of the respondents and trusted by 51%.

Meanwhile, contractors only garnered the trust of just 26% respondents.

Professional associations are the most trusted source for news and information to the tune of 63% with the distrusted reading only at 6%.

Colleagues and peers were trusted by 56% of respondents and distrusted by 6%.

Scoring low in the trust factor for news and information were customer testimonials, long a stable of marketers, but apparently not very effective. While 33% said they trusted testimonials, 20% did not trust them.

Research firms fell in the middle at 41%, while 15% said they didn’t trust them.

The M4PS report also touched on other areas such as aging demographics in the market and the biggest concerns agencies have today.

Budgets and funding used to be agencies' top two concerns, said Aaron Heffron, executive vice president of Market Connections.

Employee morale was cited by 51% of respondents, 10 points higher than their second-biggest worry in the retirement of current staffers. Retirements were called out as a worry by 41% of respondents.

Those findings reinforce the notion that people issues are top of mind for many government leaders. Of the 10 worries Heffron presented in his report, six dealt with people:

  • Employee morale -- 51%
  • Retirement of current employees -- 41%
  • Staff recruitment -- 40%
  • Leadership turnover -- 35%
  • Returning to the office -- 33%
  • Roles and responsibilities changing among staff -- 31%

This has always been a people-driven industry, but those findings bringing home the importance of taking care of staff and co-workers. People are juggling a lot of change when thinking about retirements, returning to the office and hybrid work.

A second interesting finding of the M4PS report is the years of service findings for defense and civilian agencies and how they are nearly opposites of each other.

For defense agencies including the military service branches, 45% of employees have been there 10 years or less compared to 14% for civilian agencies.

When moving up in years of service, the civilian percentages increase while defense drops:

  • 0-10 years – 45% for defense, and 14% for civilian
  • 11-19 years – 23% for defense, and 29% for civilian
  • 20-29 years – 15% for defense, and 22% for civilian
  • More than 30 years – 17% for defense and 34% for civilian

The report also dives into other areas such as when people are most likely to listen to the radio, where they get their news and what news organizations they have the most confidence in. At the top is the Wall Street Journal and at the bottom is Fox News.

Download the presentation by clicking on the resource hub tab at the GAIN Conference website.