Aside from the well-known highly corrupt and troubled governments in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, for the past two years (and more) Latin American countries have been involved in a series of scandals that have undermined confidence in politics and in business at corporate level.
Examples of this are “Lava Jato” in Brazil; “Penta”, “SQM” and “Caval” in Chile and the case of “José López” in Argentina, to mention just a few.
On the face of it, it would seem that these scandals are the only factors causing distrust among people, but there have also been other issues that are more complex that have been brewing over many years.
All these issues share a commonality apart from the unhealthy mix of money and politics. Unethical practices and widespread corruption leading people to react aggressively against the “establishment”, the elite and most privileged groups, have wracked many countries in the region.
In the light of this, the contribution made by entrepreneurs to the development of regional economies is being overlooked and underestimated.
This presents serious challenges for communications agencies.
Successful communications requires transparency and confidence; two sides of the same coin that have always been important, but more so today given the harsh reality of life in Latin America.
And crucial to success of any corporate campaign is the development of a clear strategy that builds confidence in the integrity of the business or institution being represented. Any communications strategy based on a false premise is bound to fail.
In addition, it is apparent that the more simple the language and the greater the integrity of the message, the greater its chance of success. People are no longer impressed by big words that mean nothing – they have ceased to listen to or believe in hype.
To succeed we need to convince our clients that hype will fail while humility (always with dignity) goes a long way to ensuring the successful outcome of a strategy; and that confidence can be recovered when mistakes are acknowledged.
And in order to restore confidence we need to be willing to thoroughly review what has been done, acknowledge mistakes, think of compensation if needed, set new goals and implement the best possible strategy.
However, in order to achieve the above, we need to confront the fact that too many clients prefer to remain silent or tell half-truths- even to their strategists instead of taking the bold steps necessary to stand up for what is right.
Until they do, our businesses and institutions will remain the object of criticism rather than the subject of success.