In a world of reality TV, ‘fake news’ and Instagram filters, it’s becoming harder and harder to separate the truth from the lies. And this is never more the case than with the high profile brands we know and love/hate. Consumers have been mislead and deceived time and time again (think the Horse Meat scandal, Volkswagen cheating on emissions tests and, of course, we all know Redbull doesn’t ‘give you wings’) and we say enough is enough. Thankfully, the rising trend of transparency PR is here to save the day… and save consumer relationships with brands.
Transparency PR involves an open, honest and accessible approach to communication. It’s about embracing the truth and not covering up mistakes, even if the short-term reaction from your audience may be negative. That’s the most powerful aspect of transparency PR – the fact that it leaves brands vulnerable to criticism. This will increase a brand’s credibility and customers will respect and reward the organisation for it in the long term. All in all, transparency in communication will increase customer satisfaction and generate a favorable brand reputation.
Take Dolmio and Uncle Ben’s, for example. Both brands announced in 2016 that they would put a ‘once a week’ health warning on products due to their high salt, fat and sugar content. On paper, the strategy of denouncing your own products may seem risky and many commentators at the time deemed the move to be ‘brand suicide’. However the motivation behind the announcement was one word… TRUST. Yes, after the announcement, you probably aren’t going to go out straight away and buy a multi-pack of Dolmio sauce. But both brands have gained consumer trust by demonstrating their commitment to healthy living. And now maybe, just maybe, in the future, you’ll be more likely to trial any new, healthier Dolmio products when they are released.
Transparency for brands has also been extended to social media. ‘Posed vs. relaxed’ photos are the latest trend on Instagram in response to growing criticism of “fake Instagram perfection”. Fitness model and social media influencer, Anna Victoria, has gained 1.3 million followers because she chooses to show ‘real’, behind the lens photos of her physique without ‘sucking in’ or perfecting the lighting. This refreshing transparency makes Anna more relatable and has undoubtedly captured the respect and commitment of Instagrammers around the world.
Today, transparency PR should be at the top of the list for organisations because consumers are increasingly interested in corporate social, ethical and environmental responsibility. Consumers are empowered by choice and information so expectations are becoming higher and higher. A 2014 study found that 85% of global consumers see honesty and transparency as crucial if an organisation is to communicate effectively. So what has your brand got to lose? After all, “truth never damages a cause that is just.”