Years ago, a favorite client hired me to write a newsletter article about an exciting technology upgrade in her company. Long-suffering field reps were getting zippy new Dell laptops to replace their lumbering (and moody) old PCs.
You didn’t need a computer science degree to get the point of the story:
1. You’re getting a new laptop.
2. Everything will be faster and easier.
About that time, Dell was running its hugely successful “Dude, You’re Getting a Dell!” TV commercials. I couldn’t resist the reference. The catchphrase was perfect. And my client was just edgy enough to like it.
I made “Dude, You’re Getting a Dell!” the big ol’ headline and couldn’t wait to see how many reads the story would get.
But the IT folks weren’t amused. During reviews, they rewrote the headline to sound more strategic and, well, business appropriate.
“Leveraging Technology to Improve Efficiency”
That was the header they ran. And in five words, a big “woo-hoo!” got reduced to “wah wah wah wah” from Charlie Brown’s teacher.
Now, I know if it were up to most corporate communicators, Corporate Blah Blah would never get published. We all know it’s bad. Round after round of reviews, endless tweaks from higher-ups, pressing deadlines and the need to just get the job off the desk sometimes make us publish stuff we wouldn’t put in our portfolios.
And, really, that’s okay. Pick your battles.
But it doesn’t mean we should wave the white flag and just write for faster and easier approvals.
As liaisons (and translators) between the top and the trenches, corporate communicators should make messages easy for everyone to understand — particularly those in the trenches, who are most often on the receiving end.
May this Corporate Blah Blah Blog encourage all corporate communicators to continue the crusade for clean, clear and concise communication.
- Write for your readers not your reviewers.
- Don’t stop writing what you know is good — whether or not someone changes it later.
- Even tiny victories are worth it. Get them to say “use” instead of “utilize”? I’ll take it…and keep believing that every now and then, headlines like “Dude, You’re Getting a Dell” really will make it to the final proof.
Have a success story? What about a dose of Corporate Blah Blah that you can’t believe got published? Send it to me. I’d love to share your examples on the Corporate Blah Blah Blog.