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:
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.