Five years, one month and a day after joining the HCA, I departed last Thursday to take up a new job.
I’m returning to agency life at JBP, an extremely well-respected company which specialises in PR (in all its forms) consultation and public affairs. From tomorrow, I’ll be a senior account director in its Bristol office and I am hugely looking forward to the opportunity.
That’s not to say that it was an easy decision to leave the HCA. After all, I was able to influence discussion around a hugely important area of government work. I had a flexible and fair employer and I enjoyed what I did. In the end, I moved because it offers me an opportunity to progress my career in areas that are most important to me.
I will still champion the HCA though and there are many reasons for this. Three of them have stood out in recent conversations. Read more of this post
“Some people love speaking in jargon, using fancy words and turning everything into acronyms. Personally, I find this simply slows things down, confuses people and causes them to lose interest. It’s far better to use a simple term and commonplace words that everyone will understand, rather than showing off and annoying your audience.”
I have an issue with jargon, and it’s not because I’m a pedant…
At its worst, it alienates those who we’re trying to reach and highlights a disconnect between us and the rest of the world.
It also makes no business sense, because it wastes the time of the person who is giving and receiving the information. Those are strong reasons to stop the ‘cut and paste’ approach that litters business correspondence and get back to basics.
Whilst the world of housing (particularly the bit in which I work) isn’t alone in having its own ‘special’ phrases, it’s clear that we have a problem when it comes to clearly explaining what we do. Ask anyone who joins the sector from another industry (as I did once). They’ll probably tell you much of their first few months were spent wondering what people are talking about in meetings and struggling to decipher emails.
If people who work with us feel like that, what does a small business or resident think when trying to find out about something like a new development in their community, for example?
There may be a case for using jargon sometimes; if the audience understands it, using specialist terms can be an efficient way to make a point. But context matters and dumping technical information into a note intended for someone who isn’t an expert bugs those who are on the receiving end.
And don’t even get me started on acronyms (another post for another day)! Our language is littered with them, ranging from the reasonable (HCA, DCLG) to the odd (LA for council) and plain daft (GCN? Great crested newts, or just newts!).
Sure, comms people with their ROIs, metrics, SOVs and other clever words have their own idiosyncrasies. But this should concern anyone who cares about whether people ‘get’ what we do. Read more of this post
As tweets go, the responses to my lament that the headlines from the CIPR’s latest research into the profession are depressing were at opposite ends of the scale.
The first one, from Love Bot!
Then former CIPR president Stephen Waddington, whose blog on the ’10 areas of pain’ identified in the research I was responding to.
A bit more robust, although he is pushing the industry to raise its game. It also had the ring of a demanding client or stressed out line manager (of which there are many, if the research is correct). Stephen’s blog post and the headlines in this infographic mirrored my view view that the industry needs to do more to raise standards and improve its reputation. But his challenge got me thinking: where do I – a mere manager in a small public sector comms team – sit within this snapshot? And what am I doing about it?
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“I’m delighted with the new development that’s being built in xxx. It’s a huge success story which local people and partners can be proud of.”
How many times have you read – or written if you’re a comms person – something like that and really taken it in? Like ‘transformation’ or ‘ground-breaking’, such words can be used so often that they start to mean very little.*
Then there are projects like Cranbrook in Devon, where slogans don’t do justice to what’s happening on the ground. Based on the fringes of Exeter, when complete it will include around 6,000 homes, schools, a town centre and a host of other amenities and jobs.
After more than 20 years in gestation, building work started in 2011, and now more than 800 homes are lived in and the primary school which opened in 2012 has more than 300 kids. That this has happened in the face of the downturn is remarkable, and every time I visit I’m amazed at the progress being made.
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Tesco over-egging its profits by £250m (yes, that’s a quarter of a billion quid) is a big overstatement and led to statements of shock across the media this week.
Tesco price: 5kg of spuds for £3.50
Explanations for its ‘fall from grace’ centre on issues ranging from being caught in a sector-wide pincer movement between Aldi and Lidl and Waitrose, to a rise in internet shopping hitting its out-of-town megastores and the sense that shoppers have simply fallen out of love with Britain’s biggest retailer. It’s still making hundreds of millions in profit each year. But the CEO Dave Lewis probably can’t afford too many hits like this, even though his response to the outbreak of the crisis was swift and impressive.
I’ve worked as a comms person for Tesco, supporting local consultations designed to inform its planning applications for new stores. I was struck by the dedication and drive of those connected with the business; everyone bought into the vision. We’ve shopped there for years and been devotees of its Clubcard loyalty scheme, which we’ve used to ‘reward’ ourselves with meals at Pizza Express and trips to Longleat.
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