Let’s face it. The old saying that you can run but you can’t hide isn’t true anymore. Not only is it impossible to hide today, you can’t even run away. Businesses and nonprofits are on full display. Everyone sees and hears everything each of them does, or doesn’t do.
And organizations in turn can see and hear everything that is being said about them and being done to them.
The days of one-way communication ended a long time ago. We all have talked for years about conversations, instead of one-way messaging. Listening to the marketplace is the entry cost of doing business today. And yet there are brands that still believe you can play by the old rules. Create a message and the consumer will listen and act. That simply is not true anymore.
On the other hand, some organizations have swung the pendulum all the way to the other end of the spectrum. They only listen to the consumers and are allowing them to drive their reputation in whatever direction they see fit. This may almost be worse than staying stuck in the old ways. Turning control of your reputation over to others results in your organization either standing for too many things or simply standing for nothing.
So how are CEO’s and their leadership teams to act when it comes to public communications in this environment? The answer is simple. There is no option today other than to speak nothing but the truth. First of all, the truth is always easier to remember. More importantly, open and honest communication will breed open and honest relationships with all audiences. Great relationships will translate into loyal support both in good times and bad.
Public communications today cannot be boiled down to a sheet of key message points and a list of questions and suggested answers. The marketplace is alive and constantly moving. There is no such thing as an “average consumer” any longer. We don’t simply consume today. Consumers are now “engagers.” They are getting involved and interacting with each other and with companies, nonprofits and other organizations across society in real and meaningful ways.
Successful public communications today must be active, smart and honest. After all, you know what they say; “the truth will set you free.” Organizations that take that to heart will be the winners in the 21st century.