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How brands can win the transparency race in an age of information overload

This article was originally published in PR Week and is authored by ITB Global Growth and Development Director, Crystal Malachias

In the age of information overload, consumers have become increasingly sceptical and savvy about the content and products they consume, where and who it comes from, and under what social, economic and environmental conditions it’s produced.

Brands are in a transparency race to save themselves from public scrutiny and cancel culture.

To be in with a chance of crossing the finish line means they have an important role to play in speaking out and taking greater responsibility to act on issues related to their purpose.

At a time when trust in government, politics and traditional media is fading, consumers are looking at their social feeds as a guide, demanding high-quality, honest information from brands and influencers that aligns with their interests and values.

But transparency can’t happen overnight – it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.

It needs to be woven into a brand’s DNA to be genuine; considered in all facets of both the business and communications to customers.

Due to social media, brands have infiltrated the lives and feeds of consumers in the same way a close friend would. They are the new guiding forces that consumers look to for information and expect to have a real two-way conversation with.

Information-sharing cultivates trust, so being as transparent and open as possible demonstrates that you are seeing, hearing and valuing your customers and their opinions. Brands must evolve their marketing, PR and communications strategies from being purely sales- or service-driven to sharing their core values and learnings in order to drive conversation.

Influencers have an important role to play in humanising brands, bringing realness and building authenticity to the conversation around what a brand stands for and their key values. This quest for transparency has equally impacted modern audiences’ expectations of influencers.

Increasingly they require those they follow to have an opinion and meaningful POV about brands, not to just blandly showcase a product.

With this opportunity to shape and engage with consumer opinion, more and more influencers are choosing brand partnerships based on an alignment of values, so that the content they create is narrative-driven and more authentic.

As brands open up, with greater behind-the-scenes access and knowledge-sharing, the influencers they partner are better equipped to share that brand’s story.

Since the launch of Instagram Guides, IGTV and longer TikTok videos, it’s clear the pace at which consumers are demanding information isn’t going anywhere.

Brands need to communicate on their own and influencers’ channels in an open, honest and authentic way to win the transparency race.

If not, consumers will invest their time, attention and money elsewhere.

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