Welcome to the age of transparency. We live In an environment where an organisation’s customers and stakeholders have never been more informed, never been more sceptical and never been more willing to open a dialogue directly with a business. At the same time many businesses are facing new, disruptive competitors, who communicate in a direct, informal style, changing the rules and appealing to a new generation of customer and employee – the Uber effect.
This is having a profound impact on the way business communicates. The highest standards of transparency are expected as a default (just ask Volkswagen), and people also want to hear from others who communicate like they mean it. Every communications study will tell you that peer-level voices are often the most trusted – or at least more than a brand or business.
So nowhere is this more important, and more challenging, than communicating with your own people. Creating something that is genuinely honest and authentic is a tough ask if you’re making a corporate film.
When I first encountered Jetfish, I was struck by their philosophy of creating really personal stories, often up-close, direct to camera, in a very intimate way. The aim is to get people to genuinely open up, reveal their challenges, worries and concerns in a way in which others in their organisation will actually believe, rather than dismiss as the latest corporate line.
At the heart of this approach is revealing imperfection. It’s no coincidence that they are fans of the Japanese principle of Wabi-sabi, which believes perfection and beauty is found in imperfection. It works for buildings and art, but also for communication.
It’s this type of communication that the age of transparency demands. Out with the uplifting conference music and in with honest, straightforward talking.
We feel more empathy towards people who aren’t perfect, especially if they are our peers, role models or even the people running the place we work. In corporate speak, it’s called an authentic narrative. In the real world it’s just being you and being honest.
But it takes a brave organisation to embrace it. Repeating the carefully crafted words is easy. It takes a lot more personality and bravery to show the real person, and the real organisation, behind them.
by Simon Matthews, Founder of Matters, a corporate and brand reputation consultancy. Matters is a partner of Jetfish Productions and Simon will make occasional contributions to our blog.
Simon Matthews is an independent communications consultant operating at the intersection of corporate reputation and brand marketing. He has led integrated communications agencies covering disciplines including corporate and consumer PR, digital and social media, public affairs and financial communication, brand consultancy and design.