Whether they’re developing strategic communication programs, securing media placements, or navigating a crisis, communicators often follow a set of agreed-upon guidelines to make sure things go as smoothly as possible. To an outsider, this might suggest that effective communication programs are formulaic and easily replicable, but communications professionals know achieving success hinges on an appreciation for the X-factor: authenticity.
I like to consider authenticity as the point at which credibility, sincerity, imperfection, and reputation intersect to evoke emotion. This requires the balancing of style and substance, and tailoring programs to each client. Cookie-cutter efforts are often ineffective, because generic programs simply don’t connect with people on an emotional level.
To ensure your communication programs have the X-factor, it may be helpful to consider the following 4 questions during the planning process.
1. Is the emperor wearing clothes? In other words, is the message you are aiming to communicate substantive and credible? It’s important to take a hard look in the mirror and make a critical assessment of your arguments. A challenging stress test during the planning phase can help you avoid charges of hypocrisy, whether they’re fair or not.