Doug Simon
Doug Simon

To make sure that a brand’s message comes across as authentic, a direct line of communication between company management and the media is key, according to a new study from D S Simon Media.

With the increased prevalence of “fake news,” and the resulting lack of trust that consumers feel toward the messages they receive, the value of authenticity has never been greater. Simon’s Brand Authenticity Survey 2018 asked a wide range of journalists what companies can do to ensure that the stories being told about their brands ring true.

“If you want your organization to be viewed as more authentic, you need to make your CEO, leaders and experts more accessible to the media,” said D S Simon Media president and CEO Doug Simon.

The survey’s numbers bring that point home. 83 percent of the journalists surveyed said that having an accessible CEO makes a company seem more authentic. That represents a 12 percent jump from last year. The study cites the need for CEOs to become influencers, and adds that companies need to spend time making sure that CEOs are adequately prepared for that role.

When it comes to expert spokespeople, Simon says, “organizations are often ignoring their best resource—their own talent. Not only do they make your organization more authentic, journalists are significantly more interested in interviewing them for a positive story than a third-party expert.” 79 percent of respondents said that an in-house spokesperson makes an authentic source for a positive story about a brand, while only 54 percent felt the same way about third-party spokespeople.

Brands can also use social media and video content to increase trust in their messaging. 81 percent of respondents—print and TV journalists as well as bloggers—said they get story ideas from social media and 83 percent are willing to use third-party video as produced.

The importance of a direct line between brands and the media becomes even more important for non-profit organizations, with 87 percent of the journalists surveyed saying they prefer to interview an in-house spokesperson when covering non-profits.

The Brand Authenticity Survey 2018 was conducted using online survey development software Survey Monkey. Nearly 150 journalists, including reporters and producers at television and radio stations, newspapers, as well as bloggers from national, regional and local media were surveyed.