Lessons from Remote Working #4 – Embracing vulnerability

Written by Francesca Rivett-Carnac

Tags: communications digital leadership PR public relations social media

It’s amazing how powerful a human connection can be when we see beyond someone’s professional façade and catch a glimmer of their real life in all its chaotic, mundane glory.

After five weeks in lockdown, the surprise appearance of small children in business video conferences now feels completely normal. People’s pets regularly grace my screen. I’ve seen piles of washing-up in my colleagues’ kitchens, and they’ve seen mine.

I’ve received new business calls, and not felt a hint of shame in warning that I’ll need to go if my daughter wakes from her nap. I’ve had frank conversations with clients about the emotional toll of life under lockdown. I’ve exchanged honest stories with colleagues that two months ago might have felt like oversharing.

Through necessity rather than choice, we’ve all had to reveal parts of ourselves that in normal circumstances would be neatly hidden away, out of sight from our professional spheres. And in the process of revealing some of these vulnerabilities, we’ve created stronger connections with the people we’re working and doing business with.

An incident like this wouldn't seem so weird in lockdown

We’ve seen many more of these incidents during lockdown

I think there’s an important lesson for brands in this. As humans, we are all looking for connection. Connection to a person. Connection to a book. Connection to an animal. Connection to a piece of music. It’s no different for brands, and the brands that have done well in the last six difficult weeks have been those who’ve been brave enough to open-up and share their challenges in an honest and open way.

Revealing your vulnerabilities as a brand might feel counterintuitive, risky even, but it’s a good thing. We talk a lot in comms about the importance of brand authenticity, and sharing vulnerability is a critical part of this. A brand that has the confidence to reveal the highs and lows of its journey will create an emotional bond with its community, who will become invested in that brand’s progress and success.

In the post-Covid world that we’re all desperately longing for, comms professionals should think back to the moments of real connection they found during these difficult times. It probably wasn’t with carefully curated images or tales of perfection. More likely, it was the moment when someone let us into their imperfect world and shared what was really going on. We need to encourage brands to do the same, and not just during times of crisis.


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