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BLOGFake vs Authentic Corporate Communications: Can We Do Better?

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

How would you choose to be described: authentic, approachable, and with integrity? Or fake, distant, and imperious?

Fake vs Authentic Corporate Communications: Can We Do Better?

Sadly, many organizations (and some individuals) want the former, but their words and actions demonstrate the latter. Why?

When it comes to marketing, there is always a strong linkage to emotion, with significant effort spent building visuals and writing engaging copy. But when it comes to operational corporate communications, too often it’s the opposite. Almost as if it were two completely different organizations speaking: the one that is designed to connect (marketing), and the other that is designed to obfuscate and appear “professional”. It’s an obvious gap that hurts your brand terribly, and which need not exist.

Too often, a corporate voice is written in the passive, uses overly complicated words, and rarely contains any empathy. It’s almost as if it is designed to be impersonal and cold. Consider the following example:

To book the kick-off meeting with our personnel, click on our calendar link. It is expected that all members of your team will attend. The prep material can be sent beforehand.

Yikes. Here’s a re-work, removing the passive, simplifying the language, and adding some humanity:

Thanks for signing the engagement letter. Next step is the kick-off meeting — please choose a time that works: here’s my calendar link. It would help us get ready, if you can send the prep material beforehand. Thanks!

Another disaster area is your legal agreements. Is there any reason why your lawyer cannot be instructed to write the agreement in “plain English”, as opposed to legalese? And perhaps include explanatory copy tuned to the needs of the prospective clients?

As a professional speaker, one of the biggest challenges are cancellations. Here’s a typical example cancellation clause:

If the confirmed date is cancelled within six months of such date, the entire amount specified on this contract is immediately due and payable.

Yikes again — it’s dire, screams “risk”, and the prospective client has no idea why the clause may need to be so strict. Here’s the reworked version (which is what actually appears in my speaking contracts):

We know that an event sometimes gets cancelled or the date needs to be changed. As I do significant preparation beforehand, it isn’t reasonable that I not be paid for this preparation. At the same time, when your date is locked in, I will be saying “no” to other prospective clients. For these reasons, if there is a change to the date, we do need to charge a fee, set out in the table below. (Note that If I am able to secure an alternate booking for the cancelled or changed date, these fees may be waived.)


Whenever a prospect or client reads (or hears) your words, trust is either improved, or it is diminished. Having a voice that isn’t fake, distant, or imperious is an important step to building trust. This week, take a look at your contracts: can you do just a little bit better?

Marketing Insight: The biggest problem isn’t just imperious corporate communications, but rather, communications that do not match the corporate brand. Chatty, overly personal communications are just as bad as cold, impersonal ones.

Related post: Viewpoint: Corporate Voice Cop-Outs, Authenticity, and Accountability

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