In big business we trust.
Last week, Lord Browne, the ex-chairman of BP (who also happens to have a book to promote) picked up on the issue of public trust in big business. He talked about how big businesses are setting themselves up for a fall because their communications and corporate social responsibility programmes fail to genuinely engage with the public. In other words, they don’t quite tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. More importantly, the general public now know this…
Lord Browne places this lack of public trust under the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) umbrella. He stated that, over time, companies have become complacent and only pay platitudes to their social, environmental and corporate responsibilities. He also claims that big business is now too afraid to acknowledge failure as just that. That their default position is now to dress failure up as “new version of success”. They try to fob us off and we’re wise to it. If this is true, and in some cases it probably is, how do they fix it?
The issue of how to roll out genuine, honest communications that resonates with your audience is one that Chirp is familiar with. It’s pretty pivotal to all the we do for our clients. In “bad news” scenarios, the challenge is always about the actual realities of an issue versus the reality that you’d like to present. There is not one single answer to the question, but is there a clear starting point to developing genuine, honest communication?
We believe that leaders within a business need to have some difficult conversations with each other. Each leader must agree and be absolutely clear about what the business stands for and why they exist as a brand. This needs to be communicated down through the company, to ensure buy-in, and to then turn it into some good old fashioned resolve. Resolve that when it comes down to it you will always, consistently and openly turn back to your brand when you’re creating any message - the good ones and the not-so-easy ones. It will give you clarity in times that are stressful. Finally you’ll need a good handful of guts. Believe me, it’s not easy being honest and it is human nature to shy away from painful facts especially if in the short term you can see it damaging your business. However, if Lord Browne is right, and we believe he has a good point to make here, the scar you’ll create long term, through not quite telling the truth, will run deeper and more painfully than any short term graze.
Thanks for reading.