Here’s a new column we’re introducing from our senior copywriter, Joe Benincasa. Enjoy:

As we build the Brands We Believe In, we often come to a decision crossroads: should your brand be publishing original content? Is your objectivity compromised when you represent your Brand? Can you actually claim to be the arbiter of truth on your chosen topics? Can we? Or should we leave the truth to our followers, fans, critics and customers, and let them tell us what it’s all about? Even those posting comments or replies to our blogs and social media sites may have their own agendas. So who’s right, and whose truth is the “real” truth? Does all this information, opinion (and sometimes vitriol), make the world a better place? All big questions (and not so easily answered).

As Brand advocates, we make it a point to put as little spin on our content as possible: readers can smell a fake a mile away, and in the end everyone knows what your brand is really about. It does you no good to do otherwise. But, of course, opinions differ, and every brand has its detractors. And you can make the argument that our “truth” is as tainted as any, since we’re compensated for promoting our Brand in the first place. When and how often should we be a part of the conversation about our Brand? After all, we (in concert with our clients) created the Brand in the first place, so we’re biased too.

Even news sources aren’t sacrosanct anymore. “Fair and Balanced?” Let’s face it, they’re owned by conservatives or liberals, sponsored and supported by businesses that advertise on them, and have sister organizations under the same corporate umbrella on which they’re often called to report. So whose truth is the right one?

While even the opinions of individuals can come from distrust or discontent (unhappy people tend to write or report more than happy ones), the more viewpoints we see, the more the truth slowly rises to the top. The “crowd” is often the wisest of beings. In his book “The Wisdom of Crowds,” James Surowiecki reminds us that “…a large group of diverse individuals will come up with better and more robust forecasts and make more intelligent decisions than even the most skilled ‘decision maker.’”

Jonathan Salem Baskin, a global brand strategist, author and speaker, offers a few tips for managing your brand in the global conversation…

• Make your brand a relentless source of factual data. Be transparent about it, too.
• Let people disagree. Tolerate a ton of disagreement and misunderstanding (often purposeful).
• Actively encourage independent debates. A greater number of conversations will get to truthful conclusions quicker.
• Stick to the products and services about which you’re qualified to speak, and allow independent people and communities to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Saranac, a client with a national reputation for their line of craft beers, is successfully embracing social media, and engages the occasional critic in a friendly, open way. Criticism is acknowledged without negative feelings. The critic is thanked for their honest appraisal, then is invited to learn more, sample more, and share their opinions further. The exchanges inevitably bring others into the conversation, and are resolved with all feeling even better about the brand. We’re not trying to get everyone to like our product; just give it a fair shake. What more can a business ask?

In the end, the conversation is what matters. That everyone gets a say, that everyone who wants to be heard, is heard. In the end, we can only benefit from engaging with each other. Here’s to a better world.