Last night I watched the new documentary on the Rolling Stones, Shine a Light, which features concert scenes from a couple of years ago in NYC. What does this have to do with PR? Well, for one thing they proved that stereotypes are shallow and often misleading generalizations; these guys were a bit ragged – which is part of their charm – but they could still easily blow most contemporary bands off the stage. They were powerful, mesmerizing and totally impressive. I asked myself what made them so compelling, and the answer was simple: they are undeniably and unabashedly authentic. Sure Mick plays to the audience, but it appears their love of the music and each other is deep, genuine and contagious. At times, the audience seems almost incidental to their pleasure and communion…and clearly they are not doing this for the money or adulation. I was never bored, often in awe and got chills at some of the most touching, unvarnished moments – such as Keith on his knees, head down, hanging on the neck of his guitar for what seemed like minutes after the last note, apparently not wanting the magical evening to end. Or the bandmates hugging and bowing to the audience after yet another show.

In a sea of hype, invasive marketing, clumsy advertising and superficial celebrities, these guys are the real thing. Love them or hate them, you know who they are and what they stand for. And they clearly do what they do because they still love rock and roll. The lesson here for PR professionals is simple: be authentic and foster real connections with fans (or consumers.) We’ll all be better off for it.