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Writing Wednesday: Is Authenticity A Hoax? How “Getting Real” Can Go So Wrong


Hi, everyone, and welcome to Perfectly Planned Content’s Writing Wednesday video series, where we dive into the power of words and the many ways writing impacts your business. I’m Lauren Keller, Director of Content and Strategy, and I’m thrilled to bring you a monthly video series completely dedicated to the craft of writing.

I wanted to start today with a story. 

The recent launch of Magnolia Network put Chip and Joanna Gains back in the spotlight. For those of you who aren’t home-renno geeks like myself, the pair found their claim to fame fixing up houses in Waco, Taxes with their signature modern farmhouse style. 

Suddenly, grey stain hardwood floors, weathered sliding barn doors, and farmhouse sinks popped up everywhere—from country retreats to city lofts.

But is a tattered barn door in a penthouse suite really authentic?


It all depends on your perspective. 

Authenticity has seen a resurgence of negative press, especially in marketing. 


Many have argued that the quest for authenticity has resulted in egoism, falseness, and ultimately has led people away from the very thing that matters the most: their audience.

And, when given the ammunition, authenticity can conform to that limiting point of view. One definition of authenticity is “worthy of acceptance as conforming to or based on a fact.” These words seem to suggest that authenticity is malleable, and if that’s true, people can wield it in both positive and negative ways.

When taken to the extreme, just about everything goes awry. Excess is a slippery slope, even in authenticity. But that doesn’t make the concept inherently negative. 

Authenticity doesn’t mean that your audience needs to know every intimate detail about your life. They don’t need to be live-streamed into your heated family dinner discussion or weigh in on a personal problem. They don’t need to know what you ate for breakfast or the last thing you Googled. 

That’s not authentic; it’s just over-sharing. To put authenticity on the same plane as “keeping it real” is similar to when people use honesty as a shield to be cruel or mean. 

“If I’m being honest” “if we’re keeping it real” are both starts to sentences that I don’t want to hear the end of. 

For us, that’s just not what authenticity is about. 

Authenticity is simply a tool to tell your story. 

And, like any good story, it’s not an exhaustive endless list of random facts (unless you’re into stream-of-consciousness style writing, that is).   

Instead, authenticity is about approaching your business with a fresh, realistic, and inspiring lens. It’s using elements of your life and experiences to tell a bigger story and find meaningful, valuable connections with your audience. It’s through those priceless moments where curiosity is peaked, trust starts to form, and the foundation for a relationship begins.

So many businesses struggle to intentionally infuse personal elements into their marketing, and that’s because it’s hard to do. No one said compelling storytelling was simple.

When used appropriately, authenticity brings a human connection to a service, product, or industry. 

Connection is critical in any service-based business, but especially finance, where too often, figures, charts, graphs, and numbers drown out the hopes, dreams, goals, and emotions that permeate them.

Perhaps, in some ways, it’s more important to tell an authentic story than to broadcast your authenticity to your followers. 

People connect to people, and authentic stories are a powerful medium to facilitate that connection. 

The more you can draw people into a story, the more engaged they will be—especially when that story helps them unlock a secret to their own.

At the end of the day, our advice remains to embrace authenticity—whatever that means to you, barn door and all.  

What are your thoughts on authenticity in marketing? Let me know!

Until next time.