BeReal, The Gen Z Shake and Authenticity for Businesses in 2024
Collin Schuck | Public Relations Manager

There’s a reason why BeReal became such a commodity in late 2022 and early 2023. The attractiveness of seeing other people in their everyday lives mixed with the urgency of a tight deadline to prove how genuine you truly are – or at least to show that you have time to get on your phone. Authenticity online is a badge of honor for younger generations, and as that yearning grows and that generation harnesses more buying power, companies and brands need to embrace the ability to be real and authentic as well.

“Authentic” is certainly an important mantra heading into 2024, so much so that Merriam-Webster named it the 2023 Word of the Year. We’ll save Oxford’s choice for another post.

This shouldn’t be a surprise as the pervasiveness of misinformation continues to rise and be used as a tool to paint false narratives, seek clout and misguide people toward decisions against their best interests. What doesn’t help those truly seeking to be more grounded publicly are tactics like the Gen Z shake and AI-generated influencers that give the illusion of authenticity while really painting a false reality.

I hear you asking: “Collin, aren’t you a PR person? Why should I care about your branding/creative thoughts?”

Content creation isn’t the only method to display authenticity – though having a background in content creation & social management on top of PR for about a decade helps. Brands can show authenticity through the media as well. And honestly, that helps your brand’s credibility on both their other organic channels and their reporting. There isn’t a golden roadmap, but some things to really consider in marketing and public plans based on my experience includes:

  1. Embody Your Values: People want less marketing fluff and more action. If you’re going to claim you support a cause or there is a value that the company holds dear, live it. Take action internally and externally, and stick to it.
  2. Talk Like A Real Person: Not everything needs to be a presentation…and I say that as a former sports broadcaster. Leave the overtly technical and marketing talk at the door. Communicate in real terms that are understandable, relatable and wouldn’t bore grandma at Thanksgiving dinner.
  3. Meet Them Where They Are: Bob Iger’s comments during the writer’s strike are a great example of how to sound out of touch. Nobody likes a know-it-all or someone talking down to them. Take the time to understand where your audience is, why they have their views and go to their level to communicate. 
  4. Pull Back The Curtain: The secret sauce recipe can stay behind closed doors (unless Jordan The Stallion has it in his book of recipes). But don’t be afraid to let others in and see how some of the magic happens, or the real data that goes into products, reports and decision-making.
  5. Stop Selling So Often: Just like not everything being a presentation, not everything has to be a pitch for a product or service. Be there to help, educate, entertain or just be you. They’ll come for the brand and stay for the service.

Being yourself is hard, I get it. Music and D&D are way easier outlets for authenticity for me than PR and sports. Imposter syndrome and fear of rejection are shared human experiences. Many industries thrive on copying others, but there’s honor and value in putting yourself out there and sticking to who you are as a brand. Your audience will respect that, and it’ll help in the long run as your brand scales and gains traction.

Now, to work on that post about “rizz”…

Collin Schuck
Collin Schuck is a Public Relations Manager at Elasticity, specializing in storytelling and developing relatable narratives. He spent nearly a decade in hockey as a broadcaster and media relations manager with experience in social media, content creation, and community events. He was named 2021-22 ECHL Media/PR Director of the Year prior to joining Elasticity and has been recognized in the past for his digital, PR and on-air work. Collin’s focus is on telling great brand stories and building long-term connections with both clients and media members. He owns a Journalism degree from Ithaca College and is Elasticity’s resident Marvel and D&D nerd - but is still very involved with sports.
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