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BLOGBeing Real

by Randall CraigFiled in: Blog, Communication, Make It Happen TipsheetTagged as: , , ,

What’s your reaction when you read a company newsletter, instruction manual, or other corporate communication?  Do you think it is plastic, anti-septic, and homogenized?  If so, you’re like most people – they see corporate-speak as fake, and they can sniff it a mile away.

The best communicators have always known that effective writing connects at an emotional level with the reader – no matter the topic.  And what is most effective in any digital communication is precisely this –  even if one person is a representative of a corporate brand or an organization.

Unfortunately, this point has been missed by many corporate communicators, who have blindly transplanted their impersonal corporate voice online.  Or worse, who have adopted a breezy hipster tone that is so far removed from the corporate brand, that it is laughable.

Here are four ways to get real in your social conversations:

1) Avoid the passive – it removes the writer from the equation.

  • Wrong:  A mistake was made.
  • Right: We made a mistake.

2) Speak for yourself – “We” shunts responsibility somewhere else.

  • Wrong:  We apologize that you were disappointed.
  • Better:  I am sorry that you were disappointed. (Oops – passive!)
  • Right:  I am sorry that we disappointed you. (One person taking responsibility for the entire organization.)

3) Avoid jargon and speak plainly – jargon hides and distances

  • Wrong:  We strive to exceed expectations and provide a great service experience
  • Right:  We goofed, and promise to do better.

4) Be engaging – remember that a conversation takes place when two people are engaged, not just one.

  • Wrong:  “… and that is our approach.”
  • Right:  “…and that is our approach – what has worked for you?”


Review your conversations on the social web to see if you can be more “real”, and less fake.  And while you’re at it, do a double-check on your emails, print collateral, and website: what would it take to make you be just a little bit more real?

Postscript:  How did I do?  When you read this post (or any of my posts, for that matter), do you get a sense that there is a real person who wrote it?  That the topic – and my style –  is more real than plastic?  Of course, there is always room to do better:  what would you suggest?

Does this topic resonate? Reach out to Randall: he can present it to your group.  (More presentation topics)
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