Sunday, 26 June 2011

Writing your way out of the comfort zone.

We’ve been subjected to years of compliance to the corporate “way of writing” and we’ve forgotten how to be authentic with words. Managers and marketers need to explore their inner ‘authentic’ voice so that they sound human. If you’re in marketing you’re probably a reasonably fun person to be with. I know it’s an assumption, but try to write a corporate event invitation as you would to an old friend. One you used to get drunk and laugh a lot with, preferably. The warmth and humanity that comes through will get you noticed.
Your brand guidelines will probably prattle on about a ”voice” and it’ll ban the use of overly cliché’d stock images etc etc., which is a start, but that ends up sounding and looking like a cyborg that’s been programmed to be hip by Shakespeare. ‘Yo fine sir, what’s happening my homie. We are sure to be bouncing to the max soon, think you not, my leige? Agency tattle. You (and I) are NOT down with the kids, and we never will be. Jennifer Rice's blog says it all here.
For some people, it’s actually quite hard for them to tap into the voice they use with their friends and family when writing a piece of corporate communications. It’s like a different part of the brain kicks in. Their ‘professional’ self. News just in – convergence is a comin’. And it’s moving into a blog near you. Soon.
Professional is fine. Clear is good.
However put this with the ridiculous levels of business / industry speak that permeates this kind of writing, and you have a recipe for dull, confusing and hard-to-read copy.
Add a few charts, some people in suits with perfect teeth who look like they are from some kind of alien super-race that lives on Botox, and you’ve perfected the emotion-free zone. A personality vacuum that not only looks like everyone else, but is also completely unremembered, undigested and ineffective. Stepford’s very own communications department. Nice.
Over the next few weeks we’ll be looking at ways to achieve communications intimacy without turning into a sex in the city scriptwriter, or spending the weekend in a log cabin crying about how our mums never hugged us enough. The advice given here about writing for a blog would be a great place to start is you've really no idea where to start.
In the meantime, how do you feel about it? Do you feel awkward writing in a familiar style? Are you paranoid about making a faux pas and offending someone? Or do you try to connect and remain human? Seth Godin (coincidentally) writes about this today...


  1. What I've noticed is that there isn't a difference anymore over someone giving an online presentation over webex or making one in person. There is a golden rule in netiquette - RTH, remember the human.

    The lines between the virtual and real world are so blurred now that people forget to adapt to the change. We have been so hammered with the virtual world ethos now that they have extrapolated themselves onto the real world.

  2. Thanks for the comment Bhavuk. You're right. Essentially - the personal and professional 'me' have merged. So it's a good idea to concentrate on developing an authentic, sincere approach so that your default is "rapport".