This week I came across the phrase ‘corporate blancmange’ and it got me thinking. It was used by the Head of the BBC’s Olympic coverage, Roger Mosey, who was quoted in The Sun as saying he wanted to “try things” rather than let the opening ceremony “become some corporate blancmange that no one likes at all.”
That phrase set my mind whirring about the language we use within organisations and its effect on our audiences. I’m sure at some point we’ve all continued with something e.g. a newsletter or employee event simply because ‘it’s the way it’s always been.’
But when did you last stop to consider if it’s still adding value and is distinctly un-blancmange-like? Be honest. When did you last ask your audience what they think of what the Comms team is producing, and not just through the annual employee survey?
How many times have you joined an organisation and simply stared at your fellow employees and corporate publications over your first few days as you try to decipher the ‘code’? It can sometimes feel like you have landed on another planet as you listen to the jargon and corporate-speak flowing freely from their lips and within their written communications, and how long is it before you’ve found yourself doing exactly the same?
So what’s the answer, well in keeping with the dessert theme, a trifle sounds good to me. Ask your audience – your taste testers if you will – for their collaboration and feedback before you make your dish, whether that is a new channel or shake-up of an old one. Then you should end up with layers of interesting, colourful content in a transparent bowl; what you see is what you get.
You should only use jargon-free, good honest ingredients and ensure it is bound together with a good dollop of plain English. In the spirit of Mosey, top it off with a touch of daring – a sparkler peeking out of the cream for example, in the form of a fresh approach. Is it time you shook up your comms and checked to see whether you have a recipe for success on your hands, or are you happy with your corporate blancmange? Hopefully there’s some food for thought here.
Rachel Miller started her career as a journalist and has worked agency side and in-house for companies including BSkyB, L’Oréal, Visa, Tube Lines and London Overground. Named in PR Week’s Top 29 under 29, she’s a Kingston Internal Communications Management postgraduate, mentors comms professionals and blogs here