Thursday, November 29, 2012

Do we really want authenticity?

I recently read a post from Geoffrey James at Inc. His Sales Source blog included a post entitled "Build Your Blog Traffic: 12 Rules." While I encourage you to read all twelve of his suggestions, I'd like to delve into his seventh item.

7. Have a Real Opinion

Your readers want you to be authentic and genuine even if that sometimes means being controversial. Nobody wants to read puff pieces from a corporate weasel who's terrified to offend somebody.

Excellent advice, and I try to follow it - to a point.

Why to a point? Because, sadly, the premise is wrong. And I can prove it.

I know that we all talk about being real and being authentic and not being a corporate weasel, and we decry the corporate weasels that we encounter.

But when someone actually comes across as real and authentic, is that person praised?

Why don't we pose that question to Tony Hayward?

If you don't remember the name, Hayward was the Chief Executive Officer of British Petroleum, and was the CEO at the time of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in April 2010. He was the person charged with responding to the spill itself, and to the reactions of countless people to the spill. Two months after the initial rig explosion, Hayward said five fateful words:

I want my life back.

You don't get any more real, authentic, or genuine than that.

So did Hayward's comment meet with universal acclaim? Not at all. ThinkProgress:

The millionaire CEO of foreign oil giant BP, Tony Hayward, is upset at the inconvenience caused to him by his company’s devastation of the Gulf of Mexico. BP’s offshore drilling explosion claimed 11 lives on April 20, and has since spewed 20 to 100 million gallons of oil into the Gulf. At least 491 birds, 227 turtles and 27 mammals, including dolphins, have been found dead. On Sunday, immediately after apologizing, Hayward then complained about the effect of the Deepwater Horizon disaster on his personal life....

A few days after making the initial comments, Hayward apologized. Less than two months later, Hayward was moved to another job in BP's organization.

So the next time that someone urges you to be real and authentic, ask the person, "What good did it do for BP's Tony Hayward?"
blog comments powered by Disqus