trump rally authentic

Keeping It Real: How To Be More Authentic In Your Communications

The irony of blogging about how to manufacture authenticity does not escape me. Surely being ‘real’ does not require an instructional video? Unfortunately, in the age of fake everything, it does. In modern corporate environments, particularly the marketing and communications space, we have developed a sophisticated language designed around coded phrases that have been deliberately created to squash authenticity. When a business claims to be leveraging a paradigm shift to move the needle towards a success narrative you know they are full of it and have lost the ability to communicate authentically.

Why would you trust a brand or person that can’t even trust themselves enough to be themselves? Being authentic is not just a moral obligation, but can have serious benefits for your career or brand. There is no better example of the growing value of authenticity then the election of Donald Trump.

Regardless of your political views, his campaign to win the Republican nomination and then defeat ‘Crooked Hillary’, was a masterclass in the value of being authentic. Despite his many other flaws, US voters developed an appreciation of his desire to not be anything else, other than himself. On the other hand, Hillary came to reflect everything that was manufactured; a slick careerist unable to say anything for fear of offending anyone. It became a choice between a flawed human and a perfect machine.

People still trust people more than robots and the rest is history. So how can you be more authentic in your communications, and enjoy the benefits of more engagement, without appearing to be faking it?

Be fearless

The courage to offend is often the first step towards authenticity. However, being courageous is not just about being an over-opinionated blowhard and saying whatever pops into your ahead. As Donald Trump will ultimately learn; manners and tone matter too.

To courage to speak your mind, add respect. A simple acknowledgement of the fact you disagree sends a clear message about your intent to ‘agree to disagree’ and builds trust with your audience. Too much modern corporate and political spin is created to avoid any potential blowback from individuals or groups who may not agree with you. The ability to respectfully disagree while maintaining dignity and composure are essential to authenticity.

Avoid platitudes and cliches

Platitudes are statements, especially those with a moral content, that have been used too often to be interesting or thoughtful. Like clichés, they are lazy form of communication that indicate to your listener that you haven’t bothered to create original thought for them. Avoid clichés like the plague.

Actions speak louder than words Speaking coach and author Nick Morgan believes a lot of coming across as authentic is in the non-verbal cues we give people. These non-verbal cues are the second conversation you are having with your audience and can have a huge impact on your ability to engage with people.

“We’re learning that in human beings the second, nonverbal conversation actually starts first, in the instant after an emotion or an impulse fires deep within the brain but before it has been articulated. Indeed, research shows that people’s natural and unstudied gestures are often indicators of what they will think and say next. You might say that words are after-the-fact explanations of why we just gestured as we did.” Nick Morgan (www.publicwords.com)

Morgan identifies four aims (or intents) that give rise to authenticity. The intent to be open with your audience by relaxing, the intent to connect with your audience by keeping their attention, the intent to be passionate about your subject matter and the intent to ‘listen’ to your audience by adjusting to their needs or mood.

READ MORE: How to become an authentic Speaker

Keep It Simple Stupid

Your staff and customers are facing and endless barrage of information meaning simplicity has never been more powerful or necessary. Effective leaders distill complex thoughts and strategies into simple, memorable terms that colleagues and customers can grasp and act upon. If you’re having trouble distilling something to its essence, it may be that you don’t understand it. So get clear and look out for technical jargon and business speak, which add complexity. Say what you mean in as few words as possible. These are of course only the basics but a good starting point to throwing off the shackles of fakery and beginning to build better relationships with your staff, colleagues, customers and partners by becoming a new, realer, you.

29751937 - reputation management - three arrows hit in red target on a hanging sack on green bokeh background

How Strategic PR Content Drives Public Image

Developing positive content about an individual or organisation is only a small part of what defines Public Relations. Whether it be from the advice of a PR practitioner or the choices made by an organisation, much of the PR sphere involves responding strategically to any situation in order to maintain a favourable public image.

Trust and relatability are values that an audience holds dear and they contribute heavily to public image. This means that sometimes, a well-spun positive message to cushion a negative situation doesn’t cut it. Instead, maintaining a positive public image sometimes means crafting content that defends in the face of public scrutiny or admits guilt.

Public Relations content needs to reflect the expectation people have that individuals and organisations understand what constitutes appropriate behaviour. For example, when people do something wrong, we expect them to own up to it. When someone is being wrongly persecuted, defence is acceptable as long as innocence can be proven.

Here are some examples of this in action.

Know when to ‘hit back’

In 2016, the Sunshine Coast Daily’s brand took a slight dive after publishing what many would consider a ‘low brow’ piece on their website and social media.

The story was republished after originally appearing in The Sun, entitled ‘Women quits job to breastfeed her boyfriend’. As the headline implied, the story was about a woman who took part in an ‘Adult Breastfeeding Relationship’ with her boyfriend.

After reaching an untold number of Facebook news feeds, readers and Facebook followers curiously clicked on the story and were left feeling like taking a shower after reading. But not before letting the SCD know what they thought about the quality of their content.

Source: Sunshine Coast Daily – ‘Woman quits her job to breastfeed her boyfriend’, June 8, 2016.

 

Source: Sunshine Coast Daily – ‘Woman quits her job to breastfeed her boyfriend’, June 8, 2016.

The SCD’s reputation took a slide as more people began to realise stories like this one were constantly appearing on their Facebook news feeds, and as far as they were concerned, the SCD’s quality of journalism had gone to the dogs.

A trashy story? Perhaps. Was it what many people were clicking on? Absolutely. It was this fact that inspired SCD to step in and stand their ground.

 

Source: Sunshine Coast Daily – ‘OUR SAY: That’s not news! Or is it?’ by Steve Etwell, June 10, 2016.

Their response piece explained that their range of stories is diverse, and ultimately the SCD couldn’t be held responsible for what people seemingly preferred to view on social media.

 

Source: Sunshine Coast Daily – ‘OUR SAY: That’s not news! Or is it?’ by Steve Etwell, June 10, 2016.

Of course, many rolled their eyes at such a defence. But the logical points managed to hit home for some:

 

Source: Sunshine Coast Daily – ‘OUR SAY: That’s not news! Or is it?’ by Steve Etwell, June 10, 2016.

While some readers did not change their negative opinion about SCD content, the news platform felt their point was valid and needed to be addressed. Doing nothing risks the audience continuing to believe that SCD doesn’t grade better than fish wrap. Whether people accepted the statement or not, it was a strategic piece of PR damage control that made their point clear and provided people the appropriate context.

Know when to fold

In April 2017 the media and communications industry was in a frenzy over the now infamous incident involving United Airlines and their response when a passenger was rather brutally removed from their seat.

If you’re having trouble remembering, On April 9, 2017, O’Hare International Airport security forcibly removed passenger David Dao, a 69-year-old doctor, from United Express Flight 3411 when he refused to depart the airplane. Management requested he and three other passengers give up their seats on the plane for flight staff. Camera footage was taken of Dao being manhandled by security as they pried him out of his seat. Other passengers looked on in horror as the man was dragged down the aisle.

Dao reportedly suffered several injuries including a broken nose and it turned out the plane was not actually full, even though he was asked to give up his seat for airport staff on the grounds that the plane was overbooked and the staff needed to fly for work purposes.

However, the real issue to be addressed here his how United Airlines responded to the incident the next day. The airline released a statement which, in part, stated:

“Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville was overbooked. After our team looked for volunteers, one customer refused to leave the aircraft voluntarily and law enforcement was asked to come to the gate. We apologize for the overbook situation.”

United chief executive Oscar Munoz then followed this up by apologising for “having to ‘re-accommodate’ these customers.” He also issued a statement to United Airlines staff supporting their actions as per protocol. His statement to his employees also went public.

Naturally, this sparked all kinds of outrage. The public were furious that this “combination of airline jargon and public relations spin” was part of their first response. Especially after such objectively confronting footage was released. PR blogs and opinion pieces rained from the sky, weighing in on how this could have been better handled.

This is a stark contrast to the PR dilemma the Sunshine Coast Daily faced. No matter what protocols United Airlines had in place, trying to immediately justify their actions through bland corporate spin was not the right move, especially when the public was stirred by footage of a bleeding passenger in distress.

It was universally agreed that the best course of action was to face the music; back down and own up to what happened. Take actions to prevent it from happening again. Show (don’t tell) that they could earn everyone’s trust back. The security guards were reportedly dismissed several days later, but by then it was much too late – the public had up their mind.

As we consider these two examples we can draw the ultimate lesson about public image. Humans are complex creatures, and Public Relations content should be created to reflect that fact.

Zuckerberg

Facebook News Feed Changes Will Bring About A Rethink

Facebook has announced changes to its news feed flagged last year which will have the effect of prioritising posts from friends and video content over posts from media outlets and businesses.

For news outlets and pages this will change the likelihood of their posts appearing in your news feed.

Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s head of News Feed wrote in a post that Facebook was built to bring people closer together and build relationships

He wrote: “With this update, we will also prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people. To do this, we will predict which posts you might want to interact with your friends about, and show these posts higher in feed. These are posts that inspire back-and-forth discussion in the comments and posts that you might want to share and react to – whether that’s a post from a friend seeking advice, a friend asking for recommendations for a trip, or a news article or video prompting lots of discussion. We will also prioritize posts from friends and family over public content…”

“Because space in News Feed is limited, showing more posts from friends and family and updates that spark conversation means we’ll show less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses.”

You can read Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement here in full:

So, what types of Page posts will show higher in News Feed?

According to Mosseri page posts that generate conversation between people will show higher in News Feed. For example, live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook – in fact, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos. Many creators who post videos on Facebook prompt discussion among their followers, as do posts from celebrities. In Groups, people often interact around public content. Local businesses connect with their communities by posting relevant updates and creating events. And news can help start conversations on important issues.

If you still want to see all content from a favourite page or business, you will still be able to; you’ll need to change the appropriate preference setting to see posts from your favourite pages.

This change is a sure-fire reminder that Facebook is there to make money and not just to give a business or publisher a free platform to promote itself and drive traffic. Organic reach will continue to decline for them and necessitate a rethink on the sort of content they provide and the level of sponsorship they will need or future posts.

If you’re a brand and can generate engagement, discussion and sharing then you may still be able to generate organic reach. However, all brands will need to rethink their content marketing strategies and decide how important Facebook is to their marketing programs.

Facebook has introduced these sorts of changes before and now it’s up to users and advertisers to react and respond.

Hopefully one meaningful change to news feed will be the penalising of publishers who seem to thrive on clickbait-type articles and headlines.  We’re looking at you, Fox Sports!

Image copyright: grinvalds / 123RF Stock Photo

Communications

Everyone’s Talking But No-one’s Listening: It’s Time to Reclaim the Art of Communication

Olaf Werder, University of Sydney In a world of mass communication and social media, people seem prepared to share their opinion on almost any subject.

When it comes to remembering a conversation you were involved in, in most cases the deciding factor is the contribution you made to that conversation, according to British journalist Catherine Blyth in her 2008 advice book The Art of Conversation.

But today when people talk, online and offline, any real dialogue seems to have given way to parallel monologues, paired with an inability to actively listen.

Healthy advice

A brief trip into my own discipline of health communication illustrates the dilemma. The core argument of what makes health promotion work is that the promoter must first find the barriers as to why people don’t live healthier. The promoter then converts those into convincing campaigns.

Yet, health promoters still have difficulties explaining why seemingly reasonable people still deliberately disregard or dismiss their messages. In Australia alone, the federal Department of Health says smoking still kills an estimated 15,000 people a year.

So, how do we explain that people wilfully choose to harm their future health by ignoring sound health marketing? Researchers call this phenomenon health resistance. It is basically a lack of motivation to comply with someone else’s ideas of good and bad.

And since every form of communication starts with someone’s own worldview, which has to pass through the filter of a possibly very different worldview of others, these rebellious reactions are not surprising. In politics and social issues (debates of marriage equality, climate change, race and religion, etc), we witness an increasingly dire split and hardening of positions. But the attempt to focus on perfecting one’s own arguments has equally led to an impasse in advancing public health.

Communication skills

The study of communication has its origins in rhetoric and public speaking skills of the ancient Greeks and Romans.

Rhetoric teaches the art of using persuasive tools. However the idea of resolving disagreement through measured agreeable discussion, known as the dialectic method, played an equal role to the ancient Greeks and Romans.

With this in mind, it is interesting to see how our outlooks of communication have changed in modern times. Back in 1922, the American writer and reporter Walter Lippmann still called communication:

[…] a central and constitutive place in the study of social relations.

This opinion was echoed by his contemporary, philosopher John Dewey, who argued that:

[…] communication can by itself create a community.

This early definition was close to the spirit of the dialectic method. It was also in line with the root of the word “communication”, which comes from the Latin communicare (to share or to make common) and communis (belonging to all). Both terms are also related to the word “community”.

The rise of mass media

The rise of electronic communication technologies and mass media after World War II shifted the focus onto a more scientific interest of how best to disseminate information. This was famously symbolised by the communication loop model of Claude Elwood Shannon and Warren Weaver.

A growing interest in the information processing capacity of communication ultimately led to a detachment from the art of debate.

Persuasion and media effects concepts moved centre stage. Those areas were especially useful for purposeful or strategic communication that were needed in political campaigning, marketing and public relations. Those fields, not coincidentally, grew in importance at the same time.

US communication scholar William Eadie noted that by the 1980s communication in the United States had been separated from the study of speech and rhetoric. It was more associated primarily with learning journalism and media production, while the latter became subcategories of English.

The dawn of the information age intensified the focus on creating messages further by providing people with unfiltered, instant access to media and removing communicators from real audiences.

Whereas the idea of the internet as a democratic source of information and active engagement was noble, the web algorithms that filtered what someone was exposed to along their interests created an echo chamber of one’s own held opinions. It effectively reduced communicative competency to engage in human dialogue.

If we look at the current public and political dialogue in many countries, it seems bleak. The fallout from the US presidential campaign and the UK’s Brexit vote are just two examples.

But we know from psychology that humans have a natural drive toward belonging and contribution (being heard) and finding expressions of their creativity (being inspired). This explains social movements, the fan culture in sports and participatory management.

Getting the message through

One way to arrive at practising a slower and more compassionate communication style is to borrow ideas from the Slow Movement. We can step away from instant responses and replace the idea of conversations as a competition, with a win-win mentality.

The field of health communication attempts this in the form of community-involved and -led health campaigns, creating ownership, mutual voice and togetherness in the process.

On an individual level, we need to balance impersonal with personal communication, seek out and engage with opposing opinions on purpose, and try understanding the background for someone’s position by actively listening.

This goes beyond the freedom of speech idea. It forms an attempt to find common ground when talking to each other, which is not coincidentally also a definition of the term “community”. The Conversation

Besides the obvious effects in building connections, it has direct health implications, working against isolation, antagonism and stress.

Olaf Werder, Lecturer in Health Communication, University of Sydney

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

35881565 - sydney,australia - january 4: australias nathan lyon bowls on the last ashes test match at sydney cricket ground,australia on january 4, 2014

Bringing The Ashes Down Under, One Booking at a Time

An England Ashes cricket tour to Australia is always one of the most highly anticipated sporting visits to this country.

The return of the English Men’s and Women’s cricket teams for their respective Ashes campaigns is the culmination of months of planning to ensure both series are a success on the field for players, spectators and for all stakeholders.

Planning commenced for the 2017-18 season some years in advance by Cricket Australia as the host nation with the England and Wales Cricket Board; and travel, transport and accommodation by sports and entertainment travel company Stage and Screen Travel Services.

With the England squads touring in Australia from October to February The Ashes series will ensure a highly attended summer of international cricket in Australia.

Tiziano Galipo, General Manager Stage and Screen Travel Services said, ”The Ashes is a long and complex tour to arrange and requires close cooperation between all parties involved.

“We started making bookings eight months ago as soon as the touring calendar was set and then look at fine tuning requirements as the tour unfolds.”

Stage and Screen are required to book over 8,800 hotel room nights across 12 different hotels with over 1,100 bags of luggage required to be transported. Transport arrangements include booking 36 internal flights and 270 vans, cars and coaches to move the teams and support staff around the country.

Additionally, the teams will use over 37 dozen cricket balls for training on top of the match balls.

The five-match Magellan Ashes Test Series commenced on 23rd November 2017 in Brisbane and is followed by five Gillette One Day Internationals and a Twenty20 Trans-Tasman Tri-Series involving New Zealand.

The Commonwealth Bank Women’s Ashes Series has been played in Brisbane, Coffs Harbour, Canberra and North Sydney from 22nd October to 21st November 2017.

About Stage and Screen Travel Services
Stage and Screen is Australia’s leading entertainment and sports travel company, widely respected for its people, credibility and discretion. The company lives and breathe sports and entertainment. Its long-standing client relationships have provided expert insider knowledge. Matching its Travel Managers with its clients, Stage and Screen delivers extraordinary travel experiences for Sport | Music, Touring & Arts | TV & Production | Film | Creative Industries.