Ask the Expert: What Is Authentic Anymore?

Ask the Expert: What Is Authentic Anymore?

A still picture widely circulated this week on social media showed a baby dragon breathing a puff of smoke. This image turned out to be the winner in a 2008 Photoshop contest.1BabyDragonPhotoshop

Our email and social media accounts are inundated with all types of hoaxes, false stories and fake images. Luckily, we also have trusted sources to sort out fact from fiction.

Forrester Research asked 10,265 adults who they trust regarding product advertising and promotions. A majority of adults in all age groups chose friends, family, verified or professional, authentic reviews of products or brands. 2


What Is Authenticity?

Scouting is an authentic American movement because our mission is clear: Provide once in a lifetime experiences that build the leaders of tomorrow. Sharing the tangible benefits of Scouting with others builds loyalty and participants for the movement. There are many ways to implement the vision, Prepared for Life. We are thankful for each and every Scouting volunteer and professional who practice authentic leadership.

The Authenticity Gap

The marketing agency, FleishmanHillard and Lepere Analytics recently surveyed 90 different brands and tracked the Authenticity Gap – the difference between expectation and actual experiences of nine different criteria: community impact, care of environment, doing right, innovation, credible communications, employee & volunteer care, consistent performance, member care, and better value.




Research indicated the Boy Scouts of America exceeded expectations in “doing right” and “care of the environment” compared to other youth development and youth sports organizations. 3

These findings reflect our core values. The 2015 Eagle Scout class of over 54,000 members contributed an average of 156 hours to complete their Eagle Scout projects. Nearly 6,500 Scouts have been awarded the Medal of Merit, for Scouts who perform a service of rare or exception character and concern for the well-being of others. For example, in Philadelphia, seven-year-old Richard R. jumped into a pool to save two drowning toddlers with deflated flotation devices – before the parents even knew what had happened. 4 Scouts like Robert frequently demonstrate positive character traits instilled, modeled and encouraged by Scouting.

Meeting Expectations

Using the criteria, “community impact”, “member/participant care”, “employee/volunteer care” and “consistent performance,” the Boy Scouts of America was equal to other youth serving organizations. These are areas the BSA is constantly working to improve. Actions taken in the past year have improved two specific areas cited by the Authenticity Gap report, credible communications and innovation.

Improving Communication

In 2015 the BSA Marketing Communications team launched Scouting Wire for Scouting volunteers and employees, averaging over 150,000 page views per month. Scouting Newsroom was also created in 2015 for national media news. Fans and followers of our 20+ social media channels now exceeds 1 million, a growth of 10% in the past year. Approximately 150 Scouting stories are published every week. You can even send your own Scouting stories to and keep up with the latest stories by following our Facebook and Twitter channels.


First, a complete mechanics and content redesign of the Cub Scout program launched June 1, 2015. A simplified advancement system, focused set of recognition devices, and a revamped curriculum stayed true to the mission, values, and iconic elements that make Cub Scouting so unique. Just the type of innovation our Cub Scouting “customers” (parents, leaders and boys) were asking the organization to make.

Second, the Lion program will pilot in select councils this fall and test the viability of a kindergarten-age Scouting program. Councils are now in the application process to become a pilot site, with the list of approved councils growing daily.

Finally, the game changer is, available in one low cost ($1 per scout) package. Over 335,000 Scouts and nearly 11,000 different units use Scoutbook for simplified record keeping and social messaging.

The Key to Authenticity

Great organizations bridge the gap between expectation and experience by providing genuine, successful outcomes for their customers. The CEO of Pixlee, a software marketing company, asserts that “every customer wants a better customer experience or product and an authentic brand that stands for something.”Successful organizations will always seek the truth, tell it like it is and cultivate authenticity. What can parents do to prepare young people for the authentic, real world? Join and enjoy Scouting!

  2. Forrester Research, Consumer Technographics Survey Q2 2014. Sample: 10,265 Americans


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Ask the Expert: What Is Authentic Anymore?
Ask the Expert: What Is Authentic Anymore?
Ask the Expert: What Is Authentic Anymore?