Anyone who’s ever seen a TV law show knows that witnesses swear “to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”
In 2021 and beyond, communicators would do well to adopt that as our motto. Our civic discourse has been corrupted by years of “alternative facts.” We need to reclaim a world that recognizes the only alternative to the truth is a lie—and competent communications professionals do not lie.
But surely we can spin the truth?
Nope. As mothers have said for generations, “It’s all fun and games until somebody loses an eye.” Spin may be amusing and clever, but we need clarity now.
What happens when the people who read and listen to our messages stop believing the words we use? How can we communicate ideas, change hearts and minds, rally our people—around a cause without credible words? When we lose our language, we lose everything.
Communicators to the Rescue
The good news is that ethical communicators can help restore trust in our institutions. And I’m talking everything from government to business to community-based nonprofits.
This article from Marketing Week notes that internal communications stepped up in a big way from the earliest days of the pandemic. “CEOs started communicating with their employees, often on a daily basis, with internal comms bridging the gap between the leadership and the rest of the business.” Communications professionals “humanized” their organizations, finding stories that employees could connect to. And “communicating the values of the organisation, and what they mean on a tangible level for employees during the crisis, has been crucial.”
Those communications worked because of their clarity and transparency. No weasel words (as writer Josh Bernoff calls them). No alternate facts—and definitely no spin.
The Marketing Week says that business are “shifting towards giving internal comms a permanent seat at the top table in 2021.” Few things are “permanent” in the business world. But if we continue to advocate for honesty, transparency—the truth and nothing but—communicators will make ourselves invaluable. As they should have been all along.