Scott Monty - Strategic Communications & Leadership Advisor

Scott Monty - Strategic Communications & Leadership Advisor

The Village Bride by Jean-Baptiste Greuze, 1761 (public domain)

We know we're experiencing a historic trust deficit.

Why, in an era when personal and corporate secrets can be unraveled with a few lines of code or clicks of the mouse, do we see companies and individuals go out of their way to be misleading or dishonest?

Many companies have committed to being more transparent in their operations and communications. Doing so is clearly in their best interest. It’s one thing for a brand to tell someone what its position is; it’s more convincing to use earned media tell the story on the brand’s behalf.

But the most powerful impact is when a company is confident enough in its process or operations to bring viewers in to see exactly how things are done. It’s the ultimate in show and tell.

"Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom." 
– Thomas Jefferson [tweet this]

Authenticity ≠ Transparency

Now, a word or two about authenticity with respect to transparency. As we know, transparency the quality of making something easily accessible. But once you’re transparent, are you authentic? Authenticity is the quality of being genuine, and ultimately of being trusted.

Transparency gets your brand attention; authenticity allows your message to be heard and believed.

But being authentic requires a little extra effort. More than just ensuring that access and message are on point, that the video or image or story are crafted just so, brands must ask: who are our messengers?

Fundamentally, brands have three major groups to think about: influencers, advocates and employees.

Influencers, such as bloggers or journalists, have the largest audiences; advocates love the brand and are excited about developments; and employees are the closest to the brand and therefore are able to speak more authoritatively about it.

Time and again, the Edelman Trust Barometer indicates that we trust people like ourselves or third party experts. The above groupings consist of just that.

There are no absolutes. Complete transparency—of the government or of businesses—doesn’t serve anyone well. But done strategically and appropriately, particularly in response to customer concerns, can leave the public better informed and more trusting as a result.

Consider this: sometimes, just the gesture of providing transparency, rather than the transparency itself, is enough to inspire confidence.

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