You’ll often hear that public relations is an industry built on relationships. This is true, but there is an added element that goes hand-in-hand with relationships—authenticity.
In an age of curated social media posts (#blessed) and glossy corporate stories sans reference to long hours and employee burnout, consumers are left feeling dubious and duped. Instead of connecting to the brand or business, they are left wondering if what they’re observing is real—and oftentimes it’s not.
People want passion, struggle and relatable content. Storytelling in communications provides the perfect example for the importance of authentic communication. A story is one of the most common ways humans connect, hence its popularity among PR pros. The elements of a story are important: the hero, their obstacle and their solution are essential to drawing the reader in. However, who tells the story and how they tell it can have a big impact on the authenticity.
Who’s telling the story?
The storyteller is often the one responsible for how the story is perceived. If there is misalignment between the storyteller’s voice or personality and the story they’re sharing, it’s glaringly obvious to listeners.
One example of this in PR is influencer marketing. Edelman’s 2017 Digital Trends report focused on the trend of influencer marketing. Influencers and those who are highly visible on social platforms often have a distinct voice and personalized connection with their followers which makes them optimal story-sharers. However, scripted and impersonal language can derail an influencer’s ability to connect with their followers. Consumers are smart enough to recognize what is forced and what is real.
How are they telling it?
An element that is often passed over in storytelling is the “struggle” aspect that resides between the problem and the solution. This is what’s real and real is what matters! Don’t leave out the hard stuff because of concern that it doesn’t position the brand in a positive light.
This quote from a MarketingLand article sums it up perfectly, “The world is hungry for more truth, realness and transparency. Social media platforms are enabling our consumers to express their authentic selves — and they expect the same from the brands they choose.”
Next time you are crafting a story, consider who is telling it and how they’re doing so. It’s these (sometimes) intangible things that make the difference between authenticity and inauthentic content.