Honest Communication Is Not Optional

By Eric Seidel, CEO
The Media Trainers®

Cyber space is bloated with articles, blogs, video and audio criticizing and condemning businesses and their leaders, helping to form negative impressions. Online examples are easy to find:

The people at the top in general are the subject of a recent blog post entitled The Demonization of Corporate Executives.

A major air carrier, often its own worst enemy as pointed out in this space earlier this year (United’s PR Goes Down in Flames), is the subject of even stronger criticism in the blog of Forbes contributor and marketing expert Shaun Rein, founder of China Market Research Group. He does not mince words in this post: United Airlines’ 3 greatest flaws.

When a passenger-filled JetBlue sat on a frozen tarmac for hours on end, the blogosphere went ballistic. One site defaced the JetBlue logo and its promise.

And, in the current angry environment over bailouts, when AIG chose to dish out millions in “bonuses,” the backlash was long, loud and predictable, as noted in this post: Why AIG is Getting Such a Bitter Reaction.

Executives complain they don’t know how to deal with it all. They actually do. It really comes down to wanting to. As pointed out in United Airlines’ 3 greatest flaws, the airline’s statements about customer care rang hollow. They were only words, unsupported by the actions of management and employees.

Communication, first and foremost, is critical. Today’s CEO has got to be able to communicate effectively and honestly to a bevy of constituencies. What you say—promise—and how you follow through will answer the question of How Is Your Company Being Perceived?

This era of new media is a double-edged sword. Use it honestly, openly and authentically to protect your name and reputation.

Ignore it at your peril.

One thought on “Honest Communication Is Not Optional

  1. Aligning the company’s brand promise with the company’s actual behavior is critically important. Most companies have lists of values that invariably contain ‘trust,’ ‘integrity,’ ‘honest,’ etc. Yet, they often don’t live what they preach. That’s when the blogsphere opens up and swallows them. The level of transparency with the web is much higher today – don’t live up to your values and you’ll suffer the consequences.

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