PR and communication is multi-layered. These posts are our take on what's going on in business, in the community, locally, nationally and internationally. It's about what's good practice and what can be done better. Let us know what you think.
Keeping in mind jargon and buzz-words, the Ministry of Civil Defence has a plain English writing guide for Public Information Managers on its website. It’s good to see. Of course PIMS, who are usually council communications staff, should be writing in plain English anyway as a matter of course.
Jargon is the bane of my life. Every industry has its jargon, and on top of that, every discipline within the industry has its jargon as well. And most people outside don’t understand any of it.
When I was writing a big plan document a little while back, I was working with a team of people to make sure that the document had all the right information in it and we clearly told people what we were planning, why we were planning it, what the result would be and how that would be to the public’s benefit.
To do this took a huge amount of work, to produce two slim volumes that read easily, had simple explanatory graphics, and yet contained a big amount of information. We had to make every word count.
It was difficult for some to let go of their particular jargon, because they couldn’t quite see how others might not understand what they were saying. It takes real team effort and understanding to achieve a project such as this, but in the end, it’s well worth it, because the primary objective is to be understood.
The great thing about English is that it’s so malleable – we seem to be brilliant at inventing new words, or using old ones in new ways.
But please, can we consider just how we use our language? People in offices the world over seem to be devoted to using and misusing what I call words of the moment and what others call buzzwords. Whatever they’re called, they get in the way of communicating clearly.
They range from the old ‘blue-sky thinking and COB (close of business) to on-boarding and taking it ‘off-line.’ Low-hanging fruit are popular and of course BAU (business as usual), COP (close of play) EOB (end of business), socialising issues and and lots, lots more. Any more ideas?