Effective communication, whether it’s external or internal, requires the same criteria to be applied. Whether you are writing on behalf of your organisation for the public (your potential customers), your stakeholders or your colleagues, your aim should be the same; clarity, engagement and a clear call to action.
The same applies when you are talking to a journalist about your organisation or supplying them with copy. Everyone’s lives are busy, and no-one has the time to hunt out elusive meaning. A journalist will simply put your info at the bottom of the pile and will find someone else for comment.
As PR specialists, we have been trained to write copy that engages and informs. Our years of experience have helped us identify some common failings that appear in company PR packs and websites. We’re not being critical or dismissive – there are often very good reasons why these mistakes are made. Check to see if any of these common errors apply to your organisation’s written work…
We are humans talking to humans, and yet we frequently see text from organisations that uses phrasing like “utilising within a day to day context” rather than “we use xx daily”. This comes from a fear of being seen as simple or unsophisticated; in actual fact using the former phrasing is very off-putting to the reader. Hiding behind verbose language can cause confusion. Wordiness is the enemy of clarity.
We understand that you love your product. You’ve been close to it for months, you were maybe even there at its conception. It’s your baby. People within organisations, particularly those in start-ups, can forget that not everyone is as au fait with the technology as they are, nor do they want or need to be. Your customers and the media want to know how it will help them and not necessarily the hoops, however spectacular, you had to jump through to finalise it. Specialist publications will lap that detail up – for the rest of us, top-line is fine.
We’ve all had a negative sales experience and then been either amused or infuriated to notice the organisation’s tagline as something like “committed to excellence”. Your mission and values need to live by being acted upon. A list, framed and pinned in Reception means absolutely nothing unless what is on that list demonstrably comes to life. Picking and defining your key messages, your values and your mission is not something that can be decided on in a two-hour meeting of the senior leadership team, it is something that has to resonate with everyone in the business. That way, when you talk about it to external and internal stakeholders as well as the media, it will sound authentic, be meaningful and you’ll have the facts and figures to back it up.
When talking on behalf of our own organisation we are going to be more careful and formal in what we say, but at the same time, it’s important to remember that we’re still people talking to people. You know what makes you feel engaged and informed as a listener, so offer the same approach in your own comms. And if you need help, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org