This bloke walks into a pub and the landlord says, “’Ere, Guv…take a look at my new portfolio of product…it’s got a great upgraded formulation and…listen up, listen up…I’ve incorporated some amazing brand equities into it…plus, I’m really concentrating on premierisation of the brand, because my intention is to really meet the growing needs of the region with the demand for upscaled benefits.”
To which the punter might say, “If you’re trying to tell me you’ve got a new, improved ale on tap, mine’s a pint.”
Of course the reality is you’ll never hear a landlord or landlady talk like that, at least not if they want their pub to thrive. But we regularly hear all of the above examples of corporate speak or marketing jargon coming from blue chip companies.
This wouldn’t be such a problem if these phrases stayed within the companies – after all, they’re a kind of corporate Esperanto, commonly understood within each firm. And, make no mistake, every firm has them.
But we hear all of them in an external setting – they come fresh from the mouths of spokespeople who are trying to communicate with an external audience via an interview with the media.
And, put bluntly, words and phrases like “brand equities” and “upscaling” have no place in a consumer interview.
Very often the speaker of such lingo is barely even aware it’s jargon, they’re so used to spouting such phrases in industry presentations, pitches and video conferences. (Whilst more acceptable in that context, they still have a ring of dullness about them.)
Or a spokesperson might just feel it’s rather clever to speak in this techno gobbledy-gook. It’s not. Ever.
In a media interview it’s a disaster for several reasons: firstly, the audience will perceive such verbiage as arrogant and out-of-touch; secondly, any hope of the audience heeding the all-important key messages will be lost and finally, the interviewee can fully expect the interviewer to interrupt them mid-flow and ask, on behalf of the non-plussed listener or viewer, “What does that mean?” Quite a put-down.
But there is a simple way to avoid all of the above and make a real success of the interview. Let’s go back to the pub landlord and the punter. Whenever you’re interviewed by the media, imagine explaining your message as if you were telling someone across the bar at the “Dog ‘n’ Duck” or the “Pig ‘n’ Whistle”. Use plain simple language. It’s not dumbing down, it’s common sense.
Oh, and don’t forget to commend the landlord on his plain speaking when, terribly excited about his new bitter on tap, he says to you, “’Ere, Guv…look at this new beer we’ve got…great new recipe…and…listen up, listen up…it’s got some amazing new flavours in it…plus, this one has a real quality, creamy healthy taste to it – just what I think my local customers like you are after!”
Now raise a glass to that.