No one will ever complain about something being too easy to understand, says Kuoni’s head of communications Rachel O’Reilly
Early in my career I was tasked with doing the publicity for a travel technology firm.
As a graduate fresh from work experience on a local newspaper, the task of interpreting jargon-laden briefs about functionality and turning them into press releases comprehensible to the layman seemed beyond me.
Then, thankfully, a wise and seasoned hack took me to one side.
“No one will ever complain because you have made something too easy to understand,” they told me.
That piece of advice changed my approach to writing for business. It gave me the confidence to ask the right questions and to cut through corporate waffle.
As a mantra for the seasoned scribe, it’s something journalists learn early on and political campaigners have latched on to, particularly in recent years.
A failure to communicate clearly results in all manner of calamities in life, love and business. Get it wrong and relationships break down, friends fall out and staff morale plummets. But get it right and the heart soars.
In a crisis situation, it only takes a misspoken word, a void of information or a manipulation of the truth to result in falling share prices, business collapse or irreparable reputational damage.
Get the corporate messaging right and elections are won, relationships thrive and lives are saved.
Our government, once hailed as the masters of the message, are now battling a communications crisis. They need people on side, motivated to comply with a new set of rules to make sure we see our way through the next tiered phase of the pandemic with our health and our livelihoods intact. The scale of the challenges faced are colossal, yet some smart communications tactics might have eased the public’s frustrations.
Alongside all the complexities of a global pandemic, from science on full throttle to discover vaccines and financial wizards weaving magic in an attempt to limit damage to the economy, there are real everyday folks trying to understand what’s going on, stay well, do the right thing, hang onto their jobs, retain their relationships, keep roofs over their heads, get an education and stay happy.
Good communication skills have never been more important, no matter what size organisations we run or shape our family is.
A crisis on a scale we’ve never before encountered is going to test all of us to the limit, so it can help to untangle the mess and focus on the seemingly small things. Carefully-considered words, whether calmly spoken or written down, are usually better said than not.
Be on the front foot. Talk to people. Be honest and clear with the facts. Don’t lie. Tell those who matter to you they are valued and how much you appreciate them. Be clear about what needs to be done. Don’t patronise. Best not to speculate. If it’s needed, say sorry. Deal with tricky conversations head on. Write it down.
And above all, keep it simple.
That way you tackle things together in a single direction with a clear goal in sight. And hopefully nobody will complain that you’ve made it too easy to understand.
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