Stuart McFaul on the importance of authenticity and transparency during the COVID-19 pandemic

Posted
October 7th 2020

When it comes to marketing and public relations strategies, Stuart McFaul, President and Lead Strategist of SpiralGroup, is one of the most prominent figures. A marketing veteran, Stuart has helped guide brand marketing programs for some of the world’s largest technology companies, including Apple, HP, and Getty Images. We sat down with Stuart to better understand how businesses and brands should be thinking about their purpose and role during COVID-19.

When we spoke with Stuart to chat about the greatest PR challenges in light of the coronavirus pandemic, Stuart emphasized a key silver lining of the pandemic — a chance for businesses to reassess their purpose. 

“When everyone was forced to stop doing what they were doing, they also stopped working crazily and realized they weren’t aware of the world around them,” Stuart said. “It forced them to take a pause. And in this pause, they asked ‘Is this the way I want to lead my life? Am I doing what I want to do? Am I being true to my purpose?’”

According to Stuart, who works with many prominent as well as emerging companies, many entrepreneurs have expressed a desire to get back to their core purpose. Purpose, to Stuart, is the role a company can take in contributing to the betterment of others. He emphasizes that COVID-19, in forcing us to consider our own mortality, has put people more in touch with their role in the world. 

Stuart said that now is the most important time for a company to be authentic and self-aware during COVID-19. 

“At a time like this, being transparent with the problem is the way you gain customers rather than lose them. You build trust and confidence. People appreciate authenticity when you’re vulnerable enough to say, ‘Hey, you know what, we’re trying to solve this problem. We haven’t solved this problem yet. This is hard. But we’re still trying to do it’.”

Similarly to how David Richard of BIGFish PR compared PR pitches to the dating world, Stuart believes that relationships between businesses and between employers and employees can be strained during this pandemic.

“In any good relationship, when you hit a rocky patch, real listening means being open and vulnerable, paying attention to what the other side wants and acknowledging that you’re feeling their pain. This is critical not only in personal relationships, but business relationships as well,” Stuart said.

If businesses want to succeed in the current COVID-19 “ecosystem,” they have a responsibility to be transparent, authentic, and present for their clients. 

At PeakMetrics, one of our primary goals throughout COVID-19 has been to remain a helpful source of truthful information and a valuable tool that can be used by professionals flexibly. Since the onset of the pandemic, we’ve synthesized COVID-19 resources for journalists, researchers, and nonprofits, identified the most pressing media trends, and leveraged our data to identify and combat disinformation, using our capabilities to create positive global impact. 

“[PeakMetrics] is on a genuine quest to present authentic and true information,” Stuart said. “And I think that’s a great differentiator: to value truth and its role in weaving the fabric of our lives, to help us create the world we all aspire to build.”