I recently read an article in Forbes by Glenn Llopis entitled “Thought Leadership is the New Strategy for Corporate Growth.” What particularly stood out for me was his take on transparency: “It requires an organization to share what it is known for — the hallmark of its brand reputation — by being transparent about its best practices and sharing them with clients. It requires its leadership to let go of the past and focus on the present for the betterment of its future and that of its clients. It requires a corporation to think differently about industry standards and accept that the traditional ways of doing things may no longer be as relevant as they once were – and collaborate with clients to solve for the future together. Thought leadership is about introducing new ways of thinking that will reinvent industries and significantly impact business models, the marketplace, employees, consumers and the workplace.”
Sometimes there is a fear of transparency, revealing what rivals are up to and sometimes even mentioning these competitors. What holds true these days is that transparency builds trust. With our high speed access to all things informational there is no hiding the names and nature of our competitors. In effect, sharing information of best practices that comes from a competitor or that is included in an article only builds our own credibility. We aren’t hiding anything from anyone. It’s all out there for all to see. So I question why some companies are so afraid of mentioning others who provide similar services. I believe building a reputation as an industry expert demands sharing third party credibility pieces which may include allusions to others in our silo.
In my world of PR, what this often means is sharing information for a client which elevates his/her position as a thought leader. Sometimes this material is in the form of an article which may or may not refer to one of their competitors. If the essence of the writing supports the company philosophy of my client, I lean to posting that information on social media sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and/or Facebook.
My philosophy on transparency is along the same lines as Simon Mainwaring– award-winning branding consultant, advertising creative director, and social media specialist and blogger—who says “the keys to brand success are self-definition, transparency, authenticity and accountability.”
Convincing clients of this strategy is an uphill battle which I am willing to take on.