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Contradiction can damage your credibility

What a week of message contradictions we’ve noted at Bottom Line Ideas…

First there was research from Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) which showed Britain to be the fifth most charitable country in the world (up from eighth last year apparently). The same research also reported that nearly 80% of us give regularly to charity, second only to the Thais. Then we saw the British Government veto any further support to the IMF in support of specific Euro-zone bailouts – our European cousins perhaps not feeling our generosity quite so much.

This reminded me of the research from a few weeks back which showed that the only people giving less to charity in these tough economic times seem to be the richest people in the UK. Oh, and bankers bonuses were announced which were just a tad higher than the public owners would have liked.


Why your supporters are wealthier than you think... Course by Catherine Miles. Background photo of two sides of a terraced street of houses.

I heard Piers Morgan deride the practice of Fleet Street phone hacking at the Leveson enquiry and then watched with incredulity as he refused to offer details of how he had been party to personal information obtained from similar activities… even though his newspaper was never involved in such practices…

A major PC manufacturer’s help line cut me off three times whilst I was on hold listening to awful music and a looped message insisting that my call “was important to them; please continue to hold and we’ll be right with you.”

And my favourite contradiction of this week was a discussion I joined on Linkedin about whether it is offensive to wish everyone a ‘Merry Christmas’ given the festivities are based in Christianity. The majority of the forum agreed that it is generally perceived as a statement of goodwill from one party to another and really ought to be accepted in the manner the sentiment is intended. But there were stories from marketers and fundraisers who had received complaints from various ethnic minority groups about how insensitive and presumptive a “Merry Christmas” can be followed by complaints that it was wasteful for charities to print up multiple versions of festive cards.

The overall point for us in all of these cases is that the voice concerned has simply undermined its own credibility due to the inconsistency between their viewpoint and their behaviour. Donors, volunteers, customers and the public are not stupid. No really, they’re not (reality TV aside).

If your personal or organisational brand’s words are not consistent with your actions, your audiences simply won’t believe you. No credibility = no right to ask for money, support or custom. And certainly no right to ask for individuals to repeat those actions. How consistent is your brand with your actions?

And if, like me, you’ll be celebrating at the weekend, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a relaxing New Year. (please don’t complain)