Recently, Edelman Public Relations published it’s 2011 Trust Barometer survey. Past reports point to trends that touch on what types of individuals or organizations hold the “trust” power-that is, what type of person or business entity holds the power to create trust within a consumer’s mind or more generally the world. In my opinion, this year’s analysis points to something a bit larger than past findings and something I think we all want to see more of: trust as an important element of our day-to-day business practices, moving it from a who/want discussion to a more universal platform-“this is how we do business”, “this is who we are.”
Slide 16 is what got me thinking about this idea of trust, and how trust and authenticity are so intertwined. It asks: How important are these factors to corporate reputation?
According to the respondents, what matters most for corporate reputation is: Quality, transparency, trust and employee welfare. These were ranked as the top 4 items. This doesn’t surprise me. But what ranks fourth from the bottom is what I found interesting “Good corporate citizen.” Why was this ranked near the bottom? Isn’t being a “good corporate citizen” important to a corporate reputation?
Yes, of course it is, but I believe what this speaks to is that people are interested in a deeper level of authenticity. Our engagement with brands and organizations today is not what they say they do, not how they talk about their organization, but by what they actually do. Americans want organizations to actually create quality products and services, actually be transparent about their business practices, to actually be a company that is trustworthy and that really does take care of it’s employees. It’s a put your money where your mouth is kind of world today.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR PARTNER ALLIANCES?
Consumers are much more savvy and much more skeptical than years past, requiring partnership work to be more transparent and more intrinsic to a corporation’s mission and vision.
Cause marketing and alliance work have always been about finding the win-win between organizations, but the bar keeps getting raised. Just think of the evolution of cause marketing from this vantage point: 10 years ago simply putting a non-profit logo on a product meant a corporation was a good citizen, but today it’s not just about connecting to a cause, but about ensuring that the partnership supports social change as well.
In the end, this need for further authenticity supports the current philosophy we hold at For Momentum. Hear are a few approaches we take:
- Research Matters: Do your diligence in researching the right organizations to partner with.
- Vision & Cultural Fit are Key: Ensure your partner’s vision aligns with your business goals.
- Be Realistic: Create a plan that is realistic with actionable tactics that can be implemented in the real world.
- Be Creative: Benchmark what’s happening in the industry for ideas, but work to develop creative executions that leverage your organization’s unique assets and mission.
- Commitment: Think long-term. People want to see consistency and commitment to cause efforts and partnerships; a flash-in-the-pan mentality doesn’t work.
- Stay Grounded: Always keep your constituent’s mindset top of mind;engrain them into planning and feedback.
- Beyond the Bottom line: Look for initiatives, when possible, that move beyond the bottom line and also focus on social change.
Stay tuned for my next blog post: Examples of Corporate Authenticity.