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Why Authenticity Matters Now More Than Ever

Does telling the truth have a place in a “post-truth” society when the public doesn’t always believe the facts?

I’ve been chewing on this over the last few weeks and with greater anxiety over the last few days. Maybe you have too. You’ve seen the headlines and the crowds. You’ve seen reputable news organizations called “fake news” and the gaslighting. We’ve all seen the comment feuds between family or friends — maybe even your own — on social media. It’s soo awkward, but so telling to see just how divided people are sometimes in the same community around the subject of “fake news” or largely, what is real.

My teeth ache from the grinding. Or maybe I should lay off of the coffee. (#nevergonnahappen)

I don’t want to get too far from my question… And no, this is not a political rant. I didn’t march alongside 750,000 people this weekend just to get my 10,000 steps in! I did it – and saw many of you there too – because I believe in building bridges and unity from all walks of life.

Yes. Truth has a place. It is fundamental to empowerment because it’s putting information into the hands of everyone. It’s our choice what to do with it.

Truth matters. Authenticity matters. And it matters now more than ever.

In fact, just this week the Public Relations Society of America issued a statement on Alternative Facts, including a link to their code of conduct. You should read the entire statement. One sentence stands out to me:

“Truth is the foundation of all effective communications.”

YES. YES YES. Isn’t it, though? Think about your must trusted and valued relationships. They are based on truth and trust. The statement is powerful. Reading it lit up my core. I’m proud to be in this industry and serve as a PRSA-LA board member.

Now, more than ever, we must not only continue to advocate fact-based and open conversations, but we must find new ways to resonate with a public that is increasingly exposed to “fake news” discourse. What I’m getting at here is much greater than making sure that next white paper or social media campaign is backed by fact. That goes without saying. What I’m getting at is mitigating a deeper issue and that is the emotional impact being lied to, or feeling like you’ve been lied to has on a person over time.

According to Psychology Today:

“When people in positions of power lie, you not only become disaffected with them, but you become disaffected with the institutions they represent…As we lose faith in them, we lose faith in ourselves.”

That’s probably why we all feel crummy right now. So, where do we go from here?

I think it goes back to remembering our most valued relationships and the fabric that keeps them going. Trust, openness, forgiveness, flexibility, authenticity.

Authenticity is a huge deal to me as you may already know. It’s built into my business, into the strategic best-practices I use and teach to my clients. It’s helped empower me on a personal level.

So how can we use authenticity to improve relationships, build trust and create opportunities to connect with a public that is increasingly skeptical or cautious at best?

On a personal level, I’m going to remain open to and pursue healthy discourse, but I strongly feel that it’s my duty to recognize the difference between those who are equally open to it and those who aren’t. I’m going to work with those who are willing to learn, collaborate or improve conversations. I’m going to remain open myself as I can be hard-headed too and tell the haters, “good day.” And with compassion, I’m going to be myself and speak my truth.

On a professional level, I’m going to work with my clients to bring more authenticity into their programs because it’s good for business. Some ways include:

  1. Meeting with my teams and putting “trust” as the agenda. Taking a look at our marketing/communications strategies for the next year and scrutinizing the activities. Ask if they are too self-serving. Am I creating enough opportunities to create genuine dialogue with the public focused specifically on building trust?
  2. Rating my brand’s authenticity. Am I what I say on the tin? Meaning, do accurately reflect my purpose and values in my day-to-day operations? Maybe you’ve outgrown your original purpose. That’s OK! But now’s the time to reflect and realign. If you don’t know your purpose and haven’t declared one, do it because that’s increasingly what today’s consumers demand.
  3. Bringing the outside in. Opening the doors wider to allow more of those who are interested inside. Here’s an idea if you have any big launches or events coming up. Ditch at least one planned exclusive this year and see what happens when you invite more than just one or a select few of influencers inside to cover your latest goings on. Use those opportunities to focus solely on enhancing your relationships and getting to know one another.  Because, why not?

At the end of the day there are people at other end of our news coverage, marketing events and online campaigns and cash registers…And if we focus on building trust with them – either personally or professionally, or both; treating them just as we would our most valued relationships, I think we have a shot in rising above this “alternative-facts” world. Don’t you?

We specialize in empowering brands by infusing authenticity-based online strategies into their programs. If this blog post resonated with you. Contact us.

PS/ My latest podcast explores a pretty cool notion that has to do with the law of attraction. Instead of trying to outwit customers into doing what you want them to do, think about how you can serve them (and only serve them) so that they can accomplish their goals.

Live from NAMM!

Live from NAMM!

Setting intentions for 2017 (but first, breathe)… 

Setting intentions for 2017 (but first, breathe)

Happy New Year! We made it. It’s 2017. How are you feeling?

If you’re like me, today might have been your first week back in the office and the daily grind of life. Conference calls kick back up again. Bills sit winking at me on the side table. And resolutions may (or may not) be off to a great start.

I see you yoga. Stop looking at me like that.

I’m here to say don’t overdo it. If you’re a little tired, short-fused or foggy-headed (like moi), then you’re not alone. Personally, I’m recovering from a head cold that closed out my year so fittingly. It was a maelstrom so fierce and unexpected that I had to name it after the Warrior Princess herself, Xena. I sit here triumphantly but it’s not without some lingering symptoms.

What was I saying again?

The silver lining is that all the time laying in bed and binge-watching The Crown (for the third time) not only allowed me to practice my British accent, but organize my thoughts into how I’d like to step into 2017.

First things first. I’m ditching resolutions and setting intentions instead because it sounds better! Kidding. On a deeper level, the idea of  ticking my way through a list of things to fix or “do better” has little to no likelihood of being accomplished. I know myself.

It’s like I’m 13 again and it’s my turn to load the dishwasher. Please, anything but that.

There’s something more positive about the trajectory of setting intentions in my mind and well, less intimidating.

2017 is the year of inspired action. If you celebrate Chinese New Year, it’s also the Year of the Rooster! Whether or not you subscribe to numerology or, I dunno, the zeitgeist, I think we can all agree that this year, big things are going to happen. Right now, you’re probably experiencing a sense of momentum – an urge to do something or start something. This is 100% natural this time of year but perhaps even more potent given the challenges we faced in 2016.

Let’s swing on that vine of positive change and set some intentions! Here are mine.

I WILL:

1. Step Fully Into My Purpose. You may have noticed that I rebranded last year! This was terrifying for me as an introvert. But fulfilling.  I’m bringing my unique offering into the world called Brand Organics which involved me taking some of my own medicine: getting congruent. My purpose (empowerment) and values (authenticity) are now infused into every stage of my business, so you’ll see this in areas of my services. This new website reflects that and offers a breakdown of Brand Organics so check it out. I’ll be dissecting the process in coming weeks, so stay tuned. And yes, it pairs naturally with the digital marketing services I already offer.

2. Get Back To Basics. A key part of me stepping forward was the direct result of realizing my purpose which is to empower good people to do great things. I had to fully show up to help empower you and your business to do just that. Last year I started offering Brand Strategy Sessions; intensives for individuals and groups which produce your entire brand identity and messaging and focus entirely on ensuring your brand goals are congruent with your own. It’s deep work and caught on with my clients because it offers clarity and is actionable. I now start every client with a Brand Strategy Session. It’s by far the most enjoyable part of my job.

3. Give Back Because That’s What Matters. Last year, I was able to give back for the first time since starting my business and hope to do more. I am honored to serve as a board member for PRSA-LA and last year, was asked to lend my voice (literally) to The Illumination Foundation. This, along with a few events throughout the year turned out to be one of the most fulfilling. I can always do more and will try to get more involved in my local community wherever possible.

4. Say No. This is a biggie and something I’m going to wrestle with for the rest of my life, so I might as well set it as an intention now. Here goes! For me to provide the most value to my personal and professional relationships, I need to show up fully in my power. This means saying no when I mean no and saying yes ONLY when I mean it.  This doesn’t mean I won’t compromise. Sometimes compromising is the only way through and actually I think it’s just another beautiful extension of partnership or collaboration. But I won’t compromise at the expense of my authenticity to you, our friendship or your business.

Lastly, I promise to never try to be more than I am which is someone that loves working with you. I love storytelling and the deep nitty-gritty work of bringing yours to life. I believe in empowerment and creating positive change. I believe in your business, your cause and your purpose. And I can’t wait to celebrate your successes in 2017.

My first tagline for Strategy For Impact was “I’m your biggest fan.” And although that’s retired, it’s still true in how I value you.  I hope you’re as excited about stepping forward into the new year as I am. Foggy head and all.

~ Jessica

PS/ If you like exploring this whole, big hairy topic of authenticity, here’s how you can tap it for success.