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The seven deadly sins of corporate communication…

Over the past twenty years, we’ve seen some fairly shocking corporate communication cross our desks. In this brief piece we thought we’d share a few with you, so that hopefully you can avoid making the same mistakes that others have…

  1. First up, sign-offs
    The dreaded single letter email sign off. Nothing screams ‘I don’t care’ or ‘I lack manners’, more than an email signed off by T. or S. Even worse, the email that reads:

    …because you want your client / colleague to think you’re so remarkably arrogant that they’re not worth the extra three seconds it’d take to type the words? It’s mystified me for years and will undoubtedly continue to do so for years to come. Another step on from this is the ‘pet’ name signature. This says more about you than you might think . Stop it now!
  2. Signatures
    While we’re on the subject of email, do you have a signature? If you do, why include the, ‘Kind regards’ and your name in the signature? Usually it’ll be in an entirely different font from the rest of the email. Once again, it tells me two things: firstly that you’re lazy, and secondly that you don’t care about me. If I’m a customer, why would you want to risk that alienation?
  3. Irrelevant use of social media
    Remember, anything you do on social media reflects on your corporate and professional image. If you type something, on a computer, connected to the internet, we’ll all read it. Be wary of inappropriate profile pictures, glaring spelling mistakes in your job title and getting into strange arguments in the comments section on LinkedIn. We’ll all judge you for it. Try not to post things too carelessly.
  4. Poor use of social media
    The things that look odd. Particularly the blank link on twitter to LinkedIn that says absolutely nothing. Usually a result of connecting LinkedIn or other accounts to Twitter and posting automatically. These things again make it look like either you don’t know what you’re doing, or you don’t care.
  5. Self-promoting
    We all self-promote a little bit in communication. However, please try not to make that the only thing you do. Folk don’t want to just know (for example) how many followers you have, how great your company is, etc. Do some knowledge sharing, give people a little bit for free. It’ll pay dividends.
  6. Convolution
    One of the worst, but probably most common, things we come across when working with clients around the world are convoluted sentences. Read things back out loud – are you absolutely certain they make sense? A trick I’ve discovered recently is using a text to speech reader online – the computer will read your text back to you. It highlights the weaknesses immediately. Add in some full stops, re-structure the sentences, and make it all easy to read.
  7. Misinterpretation and Miscommunication
    We’ve all done it. Instead of picking up the phone, you send another email. And another. And another… Eventually the message that should have been communicated is completely lost. Sometimes one party is angry, other times, just bewildered. Either way it could all have been avoided if someone had just picked up the phone.