In March, LCT Magazine was officially crowned with a BPA audit. If you don’t know who BPA (www.bpaww.com) is or what this means, Wikipedia states: “BPA Group Worldwide is an American company that audits the circulation of business-to-business and consumer magazines. It also provides audit services for newspapers, websites, events, email newsletters, digital magazines and other advertiser-supported media produced by its members.
The company is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(6) organization, and is the largest auditor of media in the world in terms of membership, which consists of media owners, marketer companies and advertising agencies.” BPA Worldwide audits more than 2,600 media properties in more than 20 countries.
LCT’s print and digital circulation claims are now professionally verified. We began the rigorous audit process nearly a year ago. It’s not for the publishing faint-of-heart, either. It is expensive and exhaustive. However, in today’s business environment, the pressures to cut too many costs have caused a “smoke ‘n mirrors” approach. The net result of this is a lack of corporate integrity and low consumer confidence (to the point sometimes of all-out paranoia), that make running a legitimate company tough. In the advertising world, magazine prices are based on two things: the quality of the actual reader and the total readership.
Since cost of the four Ps — print, postage, paper and people — have skyrocketed during the last decade, the media world has seen the frequency of deceptive claims soar. This reality has affected good brands, LCT included, that are not cutting but actually investing more money than ever into products and services. Since the Great Recession, LCT has increased its audience by more than 1,000 readers. Of those, 90% are owners or C-level officers of chauffeured services.
We are doing our part by not just talking the talk, but walking the walk. With BPA, LCT sets a high standard for being honest and transparent in the spirit of improving the industry culture and image. To be transparent means you tell the truth. You don’t sugarcoat numbers or bad news, and you treat employees with respect.
In your part of the limousine world, such a work environment also means that employees are comfortable speaking their minds (good or bad), and encouraged to do so. In turn, employers respect this feedback and take appropriate actions where they can to keep the company on the right course. From an HR perspective, “authentic” mostly has to do with people being “real” and not “fake,” and “transparency” usually means “what you see is what you get” and “no hidden agendas.” Employees, in turn, will perceive management as true to its word in all news about the business. There is no “double-talk.”
The benefits of an authentic and transparent work environment are endless. Not only is your team more loyal to the company, its customers and the brand, but also to each other. While you will always make some decisions as the top leader, being transparent about why that decision was made and listening to feedback makes the team feel involved. Understanding that every action from a team member comes with the intent to further the brand they own and love enriches interactions and experiences.
Failing to build this type of workplace environment can be dangerous. First, your team can become fearful of expressing their ideas and concerns to each other and to senior leaders which can stunt your company’s growth. Secondly, your brand’s community could start to question your authenticity which also affects the growth of your brand in a new way. There is no downside to instilling this culture in your business. Transparency within and without an organization is being sought, valued and embraced by clients like never before.
Smoke ‘n mirrors is not a sustainable business model. People want the real deal. I’m proud to say that with this BPA credential, LCT is helping lead the way.
Related LCT article: LCT's New Seal Of Approval