• Caroline Ridgway

How to Create Intentional Authenticity in Communications

Everybody talks a good game about authenticity in corporate (and personal!) communication. But that can start to feel like an impossible standard when we’re also told that we should be posting, individually and/or as our businesses, on social media at least once a day, sending out regular newsletters, creating new content for our websites, engaging with other people’s content, etc. All while tending to the mile-long to-do lists that accrue day in, day out. So what’s the secret?

There isn’t really one. People come to me sometimes asking for the silver bullet of how to get their message to the right audience. It’s time. It’s consistency of effort. It’s really believing in what you’re saying. That surely helps. It’s knowing where your audience is. That seems obvious, maybe, but the first hardest step, after actually conceptualizing and launching your idea, is determining who the best audience is and where/how they will learn about you.

When you’re sharing on social media, don’t force it. I like to look for articles or other content I can potentially repost, but only if it really resonates with me and a point I think I can genuinely make. I get frustrated with big-money business gurus who will issue some pithy and yet entirely unoriginal commentary on the nature of work, and people flock to it like they’ve witnessed a magnificent epiphany. Is that valuable content, or just people who are able to capitalize off their own reputations?

It is helpful, when you’re trying to establish an external communications strategy, to proactively block some time on your calendar. Those digital rabbit holes are a real problem. You can easily start scrolling only to realize it’s suddenly tomorrow and you haven’t done anything else. Set aside an hour, maybe either to start or finish your work day, or over your lunch hour. It can be useful as transition time.

Think about your messaging goals and branding. What is the voice and identity you’re trying to achieve? If you’re on the leadership team in a public-facing way, how much is your company brand tied to you, and should that be more, or less? Personal connection means a lot. It’s a little bit funny that so much effort and resources and ingenuity have gone into creating this digital world, in which, so we’ve learned this past year, you don’t even have to go outside to conduct your entire business and much of your life, and yet we crave connection. I’m tired of sending virtual hugs to people. I want to really hug them.

The next best bet is feeling like the people I work with and the companies I interact with, either professionally or as a consumer, are present with me in a meaningful way. So, does it really matter if I see a social media post every single day? Maybe not, if the posts I do see feel like they were done with purpose. The onslaught of information, if not done with thought, is overwhelming and unproductive. That said, even if daily is more than you can muster, there is a lot to be said for the aggregation of regular sharing. It’s that balancing act where people get used to hearing from you, but not sick of hearing from you.

Some questions you can consider relative to your external communications and messaging. Is this information that is directly related to my business purpose and my intended audience? Do I have a firm understanding of who I am trying to reach? Is this information that will help them? Am I sharing just because I feel like I have to, or am I personally excited or interested by this content? Is there a way I can involve my team members or even our users to engage on our behalf, so the effort is distributed?

I reflect on all of this as I have not shared any new posts onto my website in months! I went away for a working vacation (COVID-sensitive) in the fall, then was inundated on my arrival home with deadlines and must-dos, and myriad subsequent interferences and higher priorities. And that’s ok, because we’ve all been there, right? If the best time to post would have been yesterday, or even last month, the next best time is now. There’s nothing more authentic than running your business with a full appreciation of life, too.

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