Was Brian Williams’ demotion the death knell for anchorpeople?

Or does it symbolize (as we believe) how thin the claims of credibility and authenticity can be?

Think with us here.  Ever since Walter Cronkite earned the CBS anchorman sobriquet in the early 1950s, we used to regard our news readers as serious professionals, men (for the most part) who earned their authenticity in the trenches, reporting first-hand on serious and important stories.  That opinion continued to be fostered by the late Peter Jennings and the Huntley-Brinkley duet.  Fairly recently, though, the perception of anchor-folks waffled between entertainment and news; the buzz, in short, became more critical than the news.  And credibility zeroed out. 

In a sense, that TV contract of confidence between viewers and news readers is somewhat akin to the unspoken bond between employees and their corporate leaders.  Parallels abound:  Breaking news is a hard-won prize by skilled reporters.  Delivering information about workplace and corporate changes must also be a task assumed by the C-suite, provided straightforwardly yet with a sense of humane-ness.  Another:  We highly respect sector expertise, say, the political know-how of a David Todd or the late Tim Russert.  The same holds true for business chieftains who are not afraid to tell us the truth accurately, seriously, and relay what it means to us.

We could go on (and just might, later).  In your opinion, dear reader, which CEOs are today’s ‘most trusted (wo)men in America” – and why?


Maybe Facebook got it right.

Social media ‘likes,’ it turns out, are a pretty good predictor of who gets hired, who gets help at work, who’s trusted.  According to University of Massachusetts’ researchers, no matter how strong the business case, if auditors presented well-organized arguments, managers complied.  On networks like LinkedIn, recruiters seek individuals who seem to have a high level of trust – and authenticity.

What does this have to do with us communicators and designers and marketers?  Likeability boils down to a few personal attributes that, not surprisingly, are common to compelling communications:  Empathy, warmth, eye contact, and confidence.   Let’s see how they’re translated:

  • Empathy.  Think listening.  Does your brand or your company have an ear to the ground – and actively project what others are asking and needing?
  • Warmth.  It’s all about fake – and its opposite, credibility.  Genuine care and concern are easy to spot; the opposite, just as simple to pinpoint.  Take a good look at how you’re saying and doing; it might be a true indicator of external perception.
  • Eye contact.  Personal appeals work, if they’re sincere.  So even if your medium is print, it’s not hard to infuse the pictures with a sense of individuality and ‘I’m talking straight to you.’
  • Confidence.  Selling in an idea or initiative relies on the power of your belief, the faith you show in presentations and conversations and other media.  Infuse it with curiosity and a true concern about your audience – and bingo!  A sale.

Experts say likability can be taught, unlike charisma.  How do you (and your communications) measure up?


There’s a corporate America practice that has us flummoxed. 

It usually doesn’t work 100 percent of the time for 100 percent of the people. 

It requires lots of preparation and cajoling. 

And it truly needs a major support system, bolstered in part by human resources, policies and procedures, and heavy-duty communications.

The culprit:  Cascading information from managers and supervisors to staff and teams.  Somehow, many times, information gets stuck in the middle.

Our solution?  Straight from a Forrester Research survey, revealing (no surprise) that 66 percent of consumers trust recommendations from people they care about, while only 18 percent trust brand information found on Facebook, Instagram, and the like. 

Instead of labeling it in the same league as the somewhat tarnished multi-level marketing, think of it as the friends and family kind of swap, using employees to ‘sell’ to other employees (in this case, to exchange data and info).  Online and social media make it incredibly easy to sell to those you know; internally, most companies host communities and affinity groups on their intranets, encouraging conversations and collaboration.  And if we plot out a well-defined influencer network and map, so much the better.

[Yes, we know the downsides:  That kind of freedom makes brand and corporate messages so much harder to control.  And timing would be, to an extent, loosey-goosey.]

Yet the power and meaningfulness of direct connections overcomes, to us, any objections.  Your take, dear readers?


Umpty-ump research studies tell us it’s good to have friends at work.  Social scientists – academic and commercial types – tick off the reasons; friends …

  • Act as antidotes to declining employee engagement
  • Provide relief from stress (eight out of ten of us suffer from it)
  • Bond through a common sense of purpose
  • Improve productivity and profitability
  • Help with employee retention.

Yet few of these seers tell how, exactly, to find buddies in the 8 to 5 maelstrom.  There are some pretty obvious no-nos, like senior-senior manager with his/her staff member. 

And then there’s the matter of trust.  These days, the sharing of lives and values, somehow, seems risky.  Employment is not necessarily secure, and it feels better to carefully find those with whom to bond.  Besides, separating work and life is a good thing to do.

On the other hand, psychologists point out, we’re social animals, in social institutions.  So if leaders set the stage for appropriate camaraderie, the culture becomes that much stronger and its workforce, more resistant to outside forces. 

Puzzled?  The answer just could be part of orientation, onboarding, new hire initiation or whatever it’s called.  Right now, companies like Hyatt are assigning buddies to just arrived employees, individuals who will help with insights and questions.  That kind of match depends on (we hope) some rigorous screening and assessment, working to fit diverse peoples together for a longer-term relationship.  It sure helps when a tenured someone helps out a newbie, with no strings attached.

Now that’s what we call friends, with benefits.