One would expect that authenticity would be an implicit part of any form of communication.
Be it advertising, marketing, public relations, or journalism, the concept of being clear, fair and authentic – and the public’s ability to recognize it – would seem to be a given.
Indeed, in a world saturated with disingenuous and confusing news, various accusations about the credibility of our news sources and several scandals plaguing trusted brands, people have become increasingly jaded and cynical about the role of communications in the larger scheme of things.
Consumer confidence in paid media has steadily declined over the years due to the permeation of advertising content, and because people are better informed through their own digital research.
Now, more than ever, transparency is needed to develop or repair trust in brands that have lost consumer confidence due to lack of authenticity.
Eclipse of Trust
The August 21 solar eclipse and demand for safe viewing glasses is one such case in point.
Thousands of people flocked to online retailer Amazon.com to purchase glasses in order to safely view the eclipse.
Yet thanks to lack of authentication, the retailer ultimately condoned the sale of counterfeit glasses, not only leading to a massive recall but generating a wave of uncertainty and distrust over whether any eclipse viewing products were safe.
Such cases raise important questions about the need for authenticity when businesses deal with each other and their customers.
What is Authenticity and why does it matter when it comes to PR?
In a broader sense, authenticity is the degree to which one is true to one's own personality or character, despite external pressures, and will remain aligned to being truthful and honest in all communications endeavors.
From the perspective of a PR professional, this sought-after virtue is not limited to just dealing with the external public, but begins in one’s own environment.
Authenticity is a cornerstone of the PR/communications industry.
Honest and open communication within the team ensures that tasks are completed in the best possible way and ideas have the required space to germinate and take form – often resulting in creative and successful communications and/or marketing campaigns.
Building out Trust
Authenticity is not restricted to internal relationships. Great client relationships also go hand in hand with authenticity - and these can only exist by building trust, respect and an open line of communication.
The same values of honesty and transparency should also be involved in all interactions with the media, who are a key component in the life of every PR professional.
The relationships developed with journalists, producers or other contacts are of vital importance and need to be nurtured in much the same way. They are not simply a temporary means to an end but are rather long lasting professional as well as social relationships.
What we as PR professionals are trying to do is create an ongoing cycle between a client, the media and the public in a way that is beneficial to all. The client provides information for the media in an efficient and helpful way, which they then share with the public and everyone’s happy.
When this process takes place in an honest and genuine way, the result is always a ‘win-win-win,’ as each of the three involved have mutually benefited from the endeavor.
Additionally, with the growing importance and awareness of brand reputation, it is all the more necessary for businesses to be involved in this sort of cycle and to offer the public the information they need in an authentic and transparent manner.