Authenticity: The Secret Sauce in Crisis Communications
As you’ve likely experienced in recent weeks with the COVID-19 crisis, people have access to massive amounts of information in our current environment. Newsrooms are racing to be the first to release new information, seemingly every article under the sun gets shared on Facebook, and the end-user is left to sort out what’s accurate – and what isn’t. In recent years, the topic of “fake news” has been even more prevalent, and it can be overwhelming to decipher the unprecedented amounts of information around us.
Who can you trust? When you filter through all the information, how do you determine what’s false?
Because we are so overrun by information, our brains have trained themselves to ignore most of the noise we are exposed to every day. The general population has grown a thicker skin and become more skeptical of an advertiser’s intentions. In 2017, 39% of American consumers said they trusted advertising, down from 50% in 2014. So, with the heightened sense of skepticism, how are you going to gain a recipient’s trust? It’s a simple concept – authenticity.
Authenticity is Key
Authenticity is arguably the most critical aspect of public relations. It should be the goal of every brand, company or individual to present as transparently and real as possible. By using brand authenticity, you overlap “between what a brand does and what consumers want. It is an expression of how a brand transcends the pursuit of profit.”
Ethics and Integrity
Companies should always practice good ethics and integrity, especially now with the Coronavirus pandemic. At Resolute, we follow the PRSA Code of Ethics. Their statement presents the core values of the public relations profession, which guides practitioners’ behaviors and decision-making processes. They “believe [their] professional values are vital to the integrity of the profession as a whole.” The code of ethics includes statements regarding advocacy, honesty, expertise, independence, loyalty, fairness, and their code of conduct.
“Honesty: We adhere to the highest standards of accuracy and truth in advancing the interests of those we represent and in communicating with the public.”– PRSA’s Code of Ethics
Crisis Communication and Our Duty
Crisis communication demands authenticity. A crisis brings out many insecurities, questions, and can lead to mistrust. The public demands these are addressed. Practice the art of listening – and let your audience know they’re heard. Conflict between two parties often begins by misinterpretation or assumptions, which are usually caused by fear, lack of transparency, or misaligned expectations.
Keeping transparent, genuine and sincere communication creates the perfect opportunity to put authenticity into practice. A crisis is a time to maintain trust by being truthful and transparent. A company should always do this, but it is critical to implement this during a crisis.
Honesty is still the best policy.
Consumers are demanding more open and honest communication, and realizing the value of authenticity is imperative to connecting with customers. People have the availability to see your every move through social media, your employees’ conduct and the media. In a sense, you can’t hide or pull one over on the public. Be bold about your mission and tell your organization’s story in a compelling way. The voice you project should be aligned with the public’s perception of your brand.
Build connection and trust with your audience.
Being honest, showing you care and staying true to the brand is the best way to show your audience that you are doing your best to be authentic. Building your foundation of authenticity helps you to establish and maintain it.
Resolute is dedicated to being at the forefront of authenticity. We want to give you the best information possible by using the trust you have in us to present the truth with transparency.