Authenticity and communications: The perfect marriage

In today’s media landscape, it’s very easy to get caught up in everything that’s trendy and hashtag worthy. But a key communications tactic that’s tried and true, and remains the top method to reaching your audience, is authenticity.

This should come as a surprise to no one, but we no longer live in a single media environment in which traditional advertising in newspapers or on TV reach intended audiences. In fact, advertising is losing traction and readers, clients, consumers – the public essentially – are the ones controlling the message.

In this new era of media saturation (online and off, social and otherwise), citizen journalism and services on demand, businesses need to ensure they are reaching audiences where they want to be reached and doing so in a sincere way.

It’s important to:

Understand what your brand stands for

In business, there’s your product, and then there’s the associated “feeling.” For example, Mercedes is not only selling cars, they’re selling a life of luxury. Similarly, Veuve Clicquot is not only selling champagne, but also life’s best experiences. This can be said about any industry. At the same time, each business needs to know what their brand stands for. It’s about identifying how you’re different from your competition and living it in word and deed. That means in good times and especially in bad times, you remain true to your values and those of your customers or audiences without affecting your reputation.

Be genuine

After defining your brand’s values, you have to be genuine about articulating them. If you are not genuine, your audience will know. If they don’t trust you, you will know. It’s all about communicating to your customer base why they should be spending their money or time on your business in an honest way.

Look beyond just digital

People want you to find them. It’s why market research on where your audience spends most of their time and what they want from your product or offering is extremely vital to a successful enterprise. This means going beyond setting up a Facebook page and getting likes. This requires innovative thinking to continually capture new audiences in ways that speak to them.

Push the envelope

Everything moves at 1,000 kilometres a second today. That means figuring out how to stay ahead of the curve by testing the limits, taking calculated risks and leading the conversation. Innovation in marketing, communications and public relations tools are major assets in an interconnected and easily accessible world.

Businesses can’t be everything to everyone and nor should they try.

If you are good and successful at making donuts and coffee, maybe you shouldn’t be trying to also make gluten-free/fat-free/high-protein/low-carb/sugar-free/miracle-berry cereal for your customers who come in in the morning for their coffee and donut, simply because a fad says so. By all means, pumpkin spice up that latte and add bacon to that maple donut—innovating is always recommended (see #4 above).

Success, however, is a long-term game, not a short-term blitz. Consumers and audiences can see through fads and inauthenticity very easily. Staying true to your brand is what will give you the credibility to go further and set your business apart from others. Honesty, after all, is the best policy.

As president and founder of Syntax Strategic, Jennifer is a leader in the strategic communications sector. She was named one of the ‘Top 25 People in the Capital’ by Ottawa Life Magazine, was also a finalist for Ottawa’s ‘Female Entrepreneur of the Year,’ and is a Forty Under 40 recipient. Jennifer has worked with several clients in a number of sectors, including petroleum, automotive, nuclear, pharmaceutical, technology and Aboriginal affairs.