In the days leading up to Provoke17, Holmes Report’s Editor-in-Chief and CEO, Arun Sudhaman, sat down with us to describe the importance of trust and transparency during this shift to a fast-paced new reality.
How do you prioritize the need for transparency while balancing confidentiality and the uncertainty of the political and communications landscape?
I think it probably helps to try and change the mindset here. Transparency can help organisations hedge against political uncertainty, rather than being viewed as a casualty of this kind of environment. There is value in assessing your own reputation risks and addressing them publicly before someone else does. Of course, that presumes that a company’s behaviour matches its rhetoric — and there are plenty of examples that suggest this is an unrealistic presumption. However, if a company is serious about being more transparent, I think it requires all of the ingredients that we have been talking about at our conferences for several years now — commitment from the top, courage, education and a flair for storytelling. As for confidentiality, I’m not sure I subscribe to the view that everything must be out in the open; there will always be aspects of corporate behaviour that require a measure of secrecy.
In this new reality of swift and impactful communication in just 140 characters, how do you gain your audience’s trust and establish a voice of authenticity?
I don’t think there is any substitute for a long-term commitment to honest communication. Even in today’s era of realtime messaging, people trust longevity and authenticity. Mindlessly chasing the latest fad compromises that goal. However, there are some specific factors that complicate what should be a simple enough equation. Trust is an outcome, and a company’s actions have to match its words — too often this doesn’t happen, with the result that trust is decimated and any claim to authenticity is relinquished. Meanwhile, the ‘weaponisation’ of fake news creates an environment where you can pretty much say anything about anyone, and a lot of people will believe it. Tackling that becomes a critical challenge for any organisation trying to manage its reputation.

Even in today’s era of realtime messaging, people trust longevity and authenticity. Mindlessly chasing the latest fad compromises that goal.

What are you most excited to discuss at PRovoke?
We live in interesting times. Companies are being called on to serve as a counterpoint to incredible political volatility, which places unique, maybe even unprecedented, responsibilities on those charged with stewarding their brands. That, I suspect, is going to be a fascinating discussion. As is the rise of new technologies and scientific techniques that promise to unlock the power of truly personalised relationships. As ever with PRovoke, though, I’ll probably find that something else entirely will emerge as a captivating lesson from this year’s conference. And I always love discussing the provocative responses and reactions we garner from our delegates every year.
To learn more about our panel at PRovoke17, click here.