Strategic communication rules everywhere: Whether it’s marketing, PR, or ads from companies, they’re all designed to push us in directions benefiting the sender – either to build brand recall or lower their customer acquisition cost. That’s not inherently a negative thing.
- But, there’s a caveat: Brands sometimes resort to manipulation or even outright deceit to shape perceptions and behaviors for their benefit. Case in point: Bournvita’s ads in India. They claim health benefits while 50% of their product is sugar.
- The fine print: Brands often speak the truth – but usually only after the fact. If certain details conflict with their agenda, they downplay, gloss over or obscure them. The “research” or “science” they cite is more about persuasion than factual information.
On the flip side, there’s candid communication: This involves conveying your best understanding of reality backed by evidence and data. It’s about being genuine, saying what you believe and meaning it. No fluff allowed.
- Practically speaking: Candid communication means you’re not merely selling a product or service but sharing a story – your story. Websites, blogs, podcasts, videos, social media are all platforms to share this story, engaging in a dialogue with your customers rather than talking at them.
- The key elements: Respect for your audience’s intelligence and time, meaning not just honesty, but clarity and conciseness too. Ditch the business jargon. Next, it involves tackling difficult truths and sharing unpopular decisions or viewpoints, which although challenging, builds trust, eliminates confusion, and fosters a productive environment.
- The golden rule: Never exchange honesty for strategy. Regardless of your strategic goals, maintain clear, direct, and ethical communication.
Limitations of candid communication: By compounding on one set of audience and topics, you are beholden to them in the long term. But then, right at the onset we discussed that candid communication is for those who go deep instead of broad. You are unlikely to earn a full salary via the media itself. Though it may add to your passive income.