On PR language – clear as mud

But look at the balls. They have been stamped with words instead of numbers.

I’m convinced these variants exist and they are in regular use by firms of accountants and consultants. Whenever a statement is needed, the cry of ‘start the machine’ goes up from the managing partner and the balls begin whizzing around.

Perhaps a trainee yells out the results. ‘And the first ball is ‘strategy’, making its 5,371st appearance this month, followed closely by ‘our people’ 3,967th. Next is ‘strong brand’, then ‘focus’ seen for the 7,592nd time, ‘highest-quality service’ and ‘market position’ notching up its 10,000th outing.’ The latest corporate speak is born. Which is why it is so tedious.

We all know business life is full of mistakes, lucky chances, being in the right place at the right time. Clients realise that the work is not always perfect and staff understand the organisation can often be in a state of chaos. Why not write something meaningful?

Risking PR companies’ scorn, here are my suggestions. Kill off these dreary, overused words. Martin Luther King did not say: ‘I have a strategy’.

Give your audience genuine success stories about the business and be specific about what you want to achieve.

Acknowledge some of the difficult issues and give an example. We’re not fools. Churchill didn’t say about the outcome of WWII: ‘We are moving ahead with our plans.’ He said: ‘We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind.’

Give an example of some genuine and specific clients’ needs and explain how they are going to be met. Acknowledge real difficulties that the partners and staff have been dealing with and explain how you are going to make their lives better.

Add in personal reflections; comments that only you can make. Create an adult-to-adult voice and bury forever the blah, blah, blah.

Accountants and consultants have built some very successful businesses.

Those who work with them and within them deserve better words.

– Ann Baldwin FCA is a management trainer and conference speaker.

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