Caveats are killing our communications

The fictional Malcolm Tucker of the UK series 'In the Thick of It' was a master at masking communications

The fictional Malcolm Tucker in the UK series ‘In the Thick of It’ was masterful at manipulating communications

Overusing caveats is one reason trust in government and corporates is disappearing fast 

Today so much official communications is shrouded in caveats and it’s getting harder to separate substance from spin.

Phrases like these are commonly used by spokespeople, ministers and managers to stall media, protect reputations and hide information: We can’t talk about this because the matter is:

  • Before the courts
  • Commercial in confidence
  • Impinges on privacy
  • Involves national security
  • A decision has not been finalised
  • Negotiations are continuing

I’m sure each probably originated for perfectly good reasons, but now they are often the response of first choice and thrown up as barriers and reasons not to communicate. Is it any wonder there is a widening gulf between elites in government, business and the rest of the community.

Marketers and PR people used to be urged to put “sizzle in the steak” to make their campaigns succeed. Now it could be a lot simpler.¬† Organisations that speak plainly, truthfully and don’t evade the issues are the ones most likely to win trust and public attention.

 

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