Common pitfalls in corporate communications
Running a small business can often mean wearing multiple hats. This means you're under immense pressure with the operations and you don’t always have the time or training to craft perfect copy and ensure each piece of your external communication is on message each and every time.
To be great at something you also need to know what to avoid doing. Understanding this is half the battle, and when you have the bases covered you can take your skills to the next level.
Communication expert, Leigh-Ann Hewer from Carnsight Communications shares her wisdom and tips to ensure we don’t fall into these common traps.
Today I want to go back to basics and cover off some communication faux pas. Here are five things to avoid in your comms.
1. Reacting not responding
First things first, always ensure you're responding and not reacting. By this I mean it's vital you take time to think through every piece of communication, what you want it to achieve and how you're going to ensure it does that rather than resorting to a knee-jerk reaction.
It can be difficult when we’re passionate about something, but reactive communication often leads to miscommunication, misunderstanding and confusion. You don’t want to say something and have to go back on yourself. Make sure you get it right first time, and if it doesn’t happen that way, make sure you acknowledge, apologise and get it right the next time.
2. Contradicting yourself
It’s really important to be consistent and avoid contradicting yourself. This may sound obvious, but it’s not just about contradictory information. It’s also about tone and values.
Ensure you know exactly what you’re going to be communicating and how you’re going to communicate it from the get-go.
Decide on a tone and set some guidelines to aid anyone involved in your business communications in understanding expectations. Your brand and communication need to be consistent across all platforms.
3. Making everything a sales pitch
Communicating isn’t a one-sided thing and people won’t respond well to having your business shoved down their throat. Of course, you want to big up your business, but communication isn’t supposed to be self-serving.
The 80/20 rule is a great baseline to follow. This rule basically states that 20% of your content and communication can be about promoting yourself, but 80% of it should be designed around your audience. This content should serve them in some way. It should be helpful, useful, informative.
Don’t be human spam!
4. Using a one size fits all approach
Remember that there are people at the end of your communications. Again, sounds obvious, but what I mean by that is remember that every person is an individual. One size does not fit all.
How you communicate will vary depending on a number of factors such as audience, situation, platform/means of communication, message etc. All your communication will follow the same brand guidelines. However, these guidelines should be flexible and adaptable when applied to each individual situation too.
5. Not proofreading your work
Last, but most certainly not least, proofread your work! We all make typos and errors. We’re only human. Unfortunately, they really stick out and can undermine the quality of the message you’re actually trying to put out there.
Some of our top tips for proofreading include changing the font on your computer screen for the read through, printing out the text and proofreading with a pen at the ready for notes and edits, reading the text backwards word for word.
The best method (and probably the most foolproof) is to get as many eyes on the draft as possible. Get a second opinion where you can. When you're super familiar with a piece of text it can be hard to see the wood through the trees and so another pair of eyes is always useful.
Successful communication is about being purposeful, clear, concise and empathetic. If you can manage that, then you’re doing great. Hopefully these tips help you steer clear of the common communication mistakes.
About Leigh-Ann Hewer
Leigh-Ann Hewer is an Account Manager at Carnsight Communications. She joined the PR and communications agency in 2019 as an intern, and since then has completed a BA Honours Degree in Creative Writing and an MA in Writing for Children at Bath Spa University. With a true passion for the written word, Leigh-Ann strives to bring her creativity and storytelling knowledge to every project and spends her free time writing novels for children.