Univeral Amplifier

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Transparency: Are you out there?

Gina Svendsen serves as Media Analysis Director for Universal Information Services.

This blog entry is my rant—my opinion. In writing this post, I am putting myself “out there” for a discussion –because without discussion, it’s just me on my soap-box. As the Director of Media Analysis for Universal Information Services, it’s also a great diversion from analytics.

I have a slew of nieces and nephews from college-age all the way down to elementary school age, so I’m always wondering, “What can I learn from these great kids and apply that to my life?” As I was brainstorming over this blog post, it donned on me. Transparency. I learned about transparency in a media relations class in college. This old rule has changed over time and, I believe, is MORE important today and will begin to change even more over the next five years.

Today’s younger generation knows way more about this than we do because of Facebook and mobile devices. I just read that the web is older than today’s incoming college freshmen—their posts on Facebook are transparent, with the person behind the post showing their authentic self. They post the good, the bad and the ugly. (I am amused by the number of people on Facebook who air their own dirty laundry! But this is another blog subject for the future.) But seriously, I think we can learn something about transparency from the younger generation and apply it to our industry. I’m talking about being MORE authentic and transparent, more than you are right now.

When I think about transparency in PR, I instantly think of the Toyota gas pedal problem. Toyota didn’t own up to the problem right away and the end result was they lost customers. Toyota forgot the second part of the old rule. If you own up right away, we will be incredibly forgiving. The younger generation has a real problem with this because their transparent, digital lives are chronicled on Facebook. Their meaning of transparency is much different—much more stripped away. More transparent than the transparency we learned about. To them, even privacy is different. It is also stripped away, and private is not ‘as private’ as it once was. The younger generations are consumers and soon to be our peers and they have different ideas on being transparent and private.

Now, I’m not suggesting you go overboard with this idea and post the bad and the ugly, but sit with this a few minutes and think about it: how can you, your brand, your company be more genuine and transparent? More than you already are? Research has shown that by doing so, you will show your friends, your consumers, your employees a true self, and this will gain trust. Trust gains more followers, fans and customers. Trust gains the word of mouth advocate, the most desired customer out there.

Stop hiding your personality, the younger generation doesn’t! You have one, don’t you? Put some personality into your announcements, press releases, or blog. Do you “put on” a corporate façade –if this is you, pull up! The younger generation can already see through your front and they don’t appreciate the legalese. And of course, this will all come full circle when there’s a big screw up and you have to quickly admit your fault (and what you plan to do to fix it) because then everyone will forgive you. If you don’t the opposite will happen.

2 Comments on “Transparency: Are you out there?”

  1. 1 Del said at 1:18 pm on September 12th, 2011:

    Good advice Gina! I think in all this transparency one idea we must not forget is to remain honest but also to filter some of that dirty laundry before it airs. It’s nice to ask forgiveness in the immediate aftermath, but better to have not soiled the ground to begin with.

  2. 2 Todd Murphy said at 3:04 pm on September 12th, 2011:

    Del: Thanks for your comments. I appreciate your observations and agree that there is an openness that has the potential for giving up too much of oneself.

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