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Inside Column 6: Tranparency and Authenticity

A dutch journalist recently complained that a CEO had announced his resignation on his own blog. This leaves no more room for journalists to do their job ... Kind of a strange reasoning if you ask me. Clearly journalism is changing profoundly. Blogs create an unprecedented openness, and that is more of a challange to companies then to journalists. When it's the aforementionned CEO blogging one can expect him to know what he can and can not write on his blog. But things are different for huge corporations like Microsof where more then 1500 employees have their own blogs.

But to the surprise of many, including myself, this has not lead to major problems. Responsible bloggers apparently feel spontaneously what's acceptable and what is not. At Microsoft there are no official policy on what and how employees can blog. And rightly so, because before you know it, the corporate legal department stands at your desk and then open and honest communication is replaced by overcomplacted press releases that say nothing.

But counting on the common sense of your employees of course does cary a number of risks. There's always someone who does not agree with the direction the company takes, of has a different vision what can and can not be said. But how big is that problem? In fact, there is no problem, if you have nothing to hide.

And that is what it's all about. If you work for an authentic company, if your brand has a true vision and identity that is not just a shiny layer of varnish, then you can be transparent without a worry. Then you don't need to be afraid that someone may publish an internal document online.

All of this is of course not very new. Honest is a value that we were raised with by mom and dad. But untill the rise of the internet as a means of communication, companies could comfortably hide behind glossy advertising campaigns. Apparently the basic values of a healthy society were foregotten by many of these communcations specialists. No wonder advertising people score worse then lawyers when it comes to trustfullness. Todays campaigns only work if they are a reflection of the true values of the company behind it. And if that is not the case, there's always a consumer that will find it out and tell it to the world.

So it's high time to align our companies' vision with what society and consumers want, and then communicate authentically and transparently. The future is to the open and honest brands and marketeers!

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