About eight pages in to Seth Godin’s “All Marketers Tell Stories” I realized what I wanted to write my next blog post on. The idea of telling “the truth” in PR and marketing alike.
Ariely’s book touched on this idea in a few places, most notably when he was explaining the effect of placebos. He made a comment about how, if they truly make a person feel better, does it really matter that the procedure/drug was a “lie?” Yes, paying money for a procedure that has been proven to make no scientific difference does seem tragically unfair, yet if it actually had a positive impact on your well-being does it matter?
Seth Godin, marketing guru, jumps right out and declares that he is a liar, and so is everyone else in the business. He crafts a beautiful explanation about how society tells stories to help them cope with reality, then blatantly points out that we can’t handle the truth. Like I mentioned before, I am eight pages in to this book. I am sure that Godin will provide a multitude of case studies to back up his opinions, however, what are my beliefs on this topicbefore I hear him out?
I’ve always been a huge advocate of authenticity. In the past I’ve actually encountered some grief for it because I would often be blatantly, even awkwardly honest about my opinions. I do my best every single day to stay true to myself. When I first declared a major in PR I didn’t realize the negative reputation associated with it, and since then have been a huge advocate of finding myself an authentic, honest profession to match my personality. Still, I never considered the idea that authenticity and truth may not be the same thing.
Godin talks about a man who sells wine glasses by claiming that the shape makes the wine taste better than it would otherwise. Obviously, in blind tests his claim is scientifically false. However, people who purchase these glasses swear by the phenomena and therefore, assuming taste is a subjective perception, the claim is authentic.
The concept of “truth” has been subjective for as long as humans have been around to form opinions and beliefs. Often it is incredibly hard for people to accept that statement. Personally, I am open to the idea that a company can be authentic, even honest, without necessarily telling the truth. Convince me, Seth Godin.
Feel free to share your thoughts!