Credibility in content is becoming an increasing demand from the public. It is no longer just respected media outlets that are expected to provide accurate, timely and researched materials; every company must release communication that speaks to the consumer demand for more than just fluff. People are more aware of the material they consume, especially in digital formats, and develop opinions of a company’s expertise based on what they read and view.

Manoush Zomorodi recently wrote on this blog about the resurgence of quality journalism in all industries. Consumers are demanding more from corporate content and that makes writers with interviewing and researching skills a commodity.

Another part of the skill set of a journalist is the need for strong communication. Whether these professionals must ask the tough questions or find honest ways to tell unbiased truths, they need to have more than a strong grasp of the English language. Oral, written and digital communication (via emails, video creation, etc.) at a heightened level should be part of every journalist’s bag of industry tricks. Some of those characteristics are best learned by example.

PR Daily recently ranked the 10 best and worst communicators of 2012. At the top of the best list were First Lady Michelle Obama, Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Olympic swimmer Missy Franklin. The worst included former Senator Todd Aiken, ship captain Francesco Schettino and Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte. Those that ranked highly on the list had a few traits in common: authenticity, ability to connect on a personal level and occasional demonstration of emotion. Those that were ranked as poor communicators had instances when they hid their heads in the sand instead of confronting issues and at times appeared to put no preparation into public remarks.

There are a few things that journalists, and every other writer, speaker or business leader, can learn from this list. When it comes to building a brand and strengthening company image, right (and wrong) communication makes a difference. Keep these things in mind when communicating within and outside your company in 2013:

  • Tell your story. You may not think that the way your business came about or your own personal journey is interesting, but you never know who may think differently. Minor details about your career path like where you grew up, attended college or used to work may resonate with a future client. It is not always advantageous to always put on a business front; develop a strategy for sharing personal information that may be connect with potential and current clientele.
  • Apologize. Ignoring mistakes that have impacted clients is never a good public relations strategy. It is also not wise to point fingers or downplay your own involvement. Whether there is a minor error in a press release or a full-blown scandal, take ownership. If you take the lead, clients are more likely to come to you for information and your business can avoid a PR nightmare.
  • Think ahead. As much as possible, meticulously plan communication. Have a social media strategy in place, write effective press releases and have representatives of the company script public addresses. While you never want to appear “robotic” in your communication tactics, it is really important to have a plan in place so no one goes too far off course. There will always be times when an unscheduled, official communication takes place, whether oral or written, but controlling the ones that you can reduce the risk of error.

Remember that you cannot control what other people say about you or your business; you can only control the content that you create. Strong communication has a direct, positive impact on business branding. Make the most of that communication by planning it, owning it and making it personal.