Honesty and Transparency: The Dynamic Duo of Corporate PR


(DGIwire) — In the fairy tale Pinocchio, the wooden boy’s nose grew whenever he told a lie, and until he learned to tell the truth, he could not become human. This feature of the beloved tale has been used for decades to teach children a useful lesson about lying. However, if this happened to us in real life every time we told the slightest lie, we’d all be walking around with Pinocchio noses. Telling white lies can be a means of courtesy. If your spouse gets a haircut that they love and you hate, it might be a good idea to simply say it looks good; and there is only one answer to “Do I look fat?” However, in a high-stakes business environment, even the smallest white lie can undermine credibility.

Fortunately for consumers and investors, there’s no need for a growing nose. The Internet pulls back the curtains on just about everything. There are few places to hide the truth, which will eventually come out—especially for those who hold a prominent position in a publicly traded company.

Today getting “exposed” voluntarily or by force is common. Few who attack seem to consider, or care, whether their accusations are wholly accurate  or not. The damage is done and reactions are swift–delivered through the new court of public opinion, also know as the Internet.   Stakeholders—whether partners, customers, shareholders or investors feel betrayed. People start to wonder: what other non-truths could he be hiding?

For companies that are just beginning to make a name for themselves in the public eye, or for established companies wishing to repair their reputations, Dian Griesel, Ph.D., the author of the book FUNDaMentals and the soon to be released ENGAGE: Smart Ideas to Get More Media Coverage, Build Your Influence, & Grow Your Business, who is also President of Dian Griesel International, an award-winning media relations and news placement agency based in New York City, offers sage advice:

  • Establish the message. Before putting out a press release or giving a presentation at a meeting or conference, identify the single most important message the audience should to take away. This will provide a solid framework to build a media platform.
  • Emphasize the unique. The most successful companies are those that understand their corporate mission and never stray from their core objectives.
  • Don’t underestimate the importance of media training. This can make a major difference in how an executive is perceived by the media, at industry events and shareholder meetings, and anywhere they are representing their company. Body language, tone of voice and facial expressions can make all the difference between seeming trustworthy and having investors pass on a pitch.
  • Be proactive and forthright. The media add hype, exaggerate or twist a story. But if the facts have been presented accurately, there is nothing to worry about.
  • Answer the “Why?” It’s not enough to simply put a product or service out there. Shareholders and potential consumers will need a reason to buy what’s being sold.

“Honesty and transparency are fundamental to success,” says Dian. “This is especially important for publicly traded companies. Investors, consumers and the media can easily access corporate documents and financial filings on the Internet. If an executive and their company are as transparent as possible, they’ll be on their way to establishing a solid rapport with the public.”