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Transparency in the Digital Age

It can be said that there are two kinds of companies and two kinds of individuals: those who are transparent and those who are not. Transparency takes on different forms, but ultimately boils down to ethics.

Is your company ethical?
Are you ethical?
Does it matter?

When we decide to be fully transparent, completely closed off, or stand somewhere in the middle of these extremes, it affects everything that happens in business (marketing, customer service, sales, and communications come to mind). Digital marketing and communications specifically are two disciplines in which transparency and ethics are amplified; meaning that a severe lack or an abundance of the two is more obvious and easy to pick out than in a traditional setting.

Transparency is admitting when a mistake is made

Travel company Airbnb recently had a PR disaster when actions from a poorly behaved customer put the future of the business in jeopardy. To address the issue CEO Brian Chesky immediately posted details of the incident on the company blog and made a commitment to make safety a higher priority. Never try and hide from mistakes.

Transparency is the disclosure of interest and financial relationships

If you’re making income or acting on behalf of a paying client or customer, it’s important to disclose all related beneficiaries. One example would be a blog post that reviews a product. If you’re given a product for free in exchange for a review, it would be unethical to not disclose it somewhere within the post.

Transparency is giving credit to original material

This is a big one: DO NOT take credit for material that you do not own. If you’re using source material, make sure to cite all references

Transparency is communicating clear expectations and results

Are you making outlandish claims on behalf of your company? What do your customers expect in relation to what the company can actually deliver? It’s a mistake to promise the world and then fail to deliver.

Transparency is following through

There’s no such thing as subpar customer service. You’re either meeting and exceeding expectations or falling short.

Transparency is an open dialogue of communication

A company website for example, can encourage or limit transparency. Does your website provide current contact information (phone number, email, mailing address), include an about page, and provide detailed product/service information? All of these items help increase the perceived level of openness that a business has.

What does transparency look like to you?

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