Being genuine in the corporate world is already hard, becoming even more difficult during times of crisis or shareholder impact. Challenging as it is though, being transparent and genuine does have its benefits. Case in point—Zappos.com being valued at $1.2 billion while being sold to Amazon. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, says that because of his transparent approach, “Our customers do the marketing for us.”
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In a world of fake PR spin and mainstream media, it is important to focus on what the customers really need from a brand—whether it’s a better customer experience or a more strategic input to the customers’ community. Did you inspire me with your last piece of content? Did you make me want to buy into your philosophy and market-penetration strategy? Are your employees happier working with you?
The company that can really be honest in the middle of all thisemerges a winner. Case in point—Tesla. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, has always been honest about his dissapointments with the space programme, the latency of American investors, and the amount of innovation he wants to see in his companies. In return, he has seen great returns in every sphere. It is because of this mentality—this very basic switch from PR-friendly corporate communications to a genuine voice with dissapointments and happiness—is what makes people fall in love with Tesla and Musk as a person.
How to strategiclly be more genuine in your communications:
#1 Start from the ground up: Get to the core of why your brand hasn’t been genuine with its communications—is it external agencies or parternships that may tarnish the brand’s image? If so, guage the limits of genuininess in communications. Extend those limits as much as possible and start from the ground up to employee communications, extended outreach programmes, media communications, brand marketing communications, etc.
#2 Audit: Perform a standard audit on the effectiveness of current communications, and analyse where it falls short while using geniuine communications as a barometer test. Analyse your industry and the level of genuine communications being published in the media or during events, and understand why your customers are taking steps either towards you or away from you as a company.
#3 Champion the cause: If you have significant power in the company, leverage the cause yourself or find someone who has power and talk to them about it with insights from your analysis. Always bring good data and analysis. Empower the champion to create converations that spark this trend inside the company.
#4 Follow through” Work with the marketing team, the HR team, and any other team directly involved with communications both inside and outside the company. Talk to the champions again, and understand where the lapses are falling. Work with them directly, as well, to create a solid framework for your company to succeed with the model of genuine communications.
#5 Post audit: Now that you have jumped into the marketplace and crafted more genuine communications, you need to measure the impact of it both in the industry itself and outside of it. Analyse how effectively it has changed things in the hemisphere and how much more work is needed to build up the brand’s image in the marketplace as a genuine communicator, be it spokespersons at events or speaking engagements, or brand deals and negotiations on the table.