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Fakin' it ain't makin' it anymore

Image2681406l_4 Cheat, cheat, never beat. Didn't we all learn that lesson long ago? Apparently, it's a lesson lost on a CBS news producer who got caught with fingers in the creative cookie jar and paid with their job.

Katie Couric's Notebook is a regular feature on the CBS Evening News where the anchor comments on a topic of her choice. Her recent commentary on the growing obsolescence of libraries, it turns out, wasn't just bad journalism--it was plagiarism. Theft. Worst of it, it wasn't even Katie's dirty work; a producer allegedly lifted the essay nearly verbatim from the Wall Street Journal.

Okay, it's bad. Very bad. It's a career-ending Imus-like blunder. But, what's worse is the greater point made in uncovering the theft: Katie Couric doesn't even write her own blog--but acts like she does. 

The only thing worse than larceny is lying. Blogging has become a trendy accessory in media circles. Some are good, most aren't. But, Katie's is not only a forged effort, but a brand-damaging one: counterfeited authenticity. How do you come back from this kind of blunder?

"Gee, we're sorry you caught us faking it and we promise not to do it again."

As SpongeBob would say, "uhhh, good luck with that." 

Transparency is at the heart of blogging: you're getting the unvarnished thoughts of the author. Either Katie's too busy or CBS doesn't have faith in her ability to pen a daily dispatch. Either way, it's a case where doing nothing would have been better for the producer, Katie and CBS News.

Attraction begins with authenticity. People will always sniff out a fake. I refuse working with clients who want to put a fresh coat of wax on a dull story and peddle it as new. Sorry, won't work. If there's a flaw with your tale, celebrate it: often admitting your shortcomings makes your other claims more credible.

Creating an attraction force in your messaging is all about bringing customers behind the curtain and leveling with them. When you take a step in that direction, make sure it's authentic. If you're not sure that's possible, stop. Take a look inside and figure out why. The answers you find will point you in the direction of effective long-term brand building.


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