Lessons from Brian Williams, Walmart and GNC
Can you picture Brian Williams in one of those Southwest Airlines “Want to Get Away?” commercials?
The NBC Nightly News Anchor was suspended for six months after misrepresenting events which occurred while he was covering the Iraq War in 2003. Bloggers, comedians and traditional news media outlets continue to feast on the story as the number of “misrepresentations” Williams has made over the years grows.
The New York State attorney general’s office accused GNC, Target, Walgreens and Walmart of selling fraudulent and potentially dangerous herbal supplements.
At the four national retailers, tests conducted on top-selling store brands of herbal supplements found four out of five products didn’t contain any of the herbs on their labels and instead had cheap fillers like powdered rice, asparagus and houseplants and even substances that could be dangerous to people with allergies.
As our kindergarten teachers taught us, telling the truth is a good thing. But it’s also the practical approach.
4 Messaging Truths to Remember:
1. It’s About Them, Not You. Marketing is about finding out what your target audiences want, developing it and giving it to them when and where they want it, at a price they’re willing to pay, and then telling them about it again and again.
In other words, make it about them—current and prospective customers. Focus on their needs and wants, not you and yours.
2. Authenticity Sells. Staying true to yourself or your company’s core beliefs builds your identity and instills trust. Others can relate to you, your company, your product or service.
3. The Truth Will Come Out. With today’s media, telling the truth is essential. Journalists have been taught to ‘get the story, get it first and get it right.’ If you offer a less than truthful response, you will be perceived negatively when the reporter breaks the story.
4. Your Customers Aren’t Stupid. Most people figure out when someone is lying and know when an ad or story is B.S.
You don’t need a news anchor to broadcast it. There’s no cure all pill to make you do it. But your kindergarten teacher was right:
Tell the truth. Don’t embellish. Be yourself.