Ever read a press release comprised entirely of corporate speak and buzzwords? (Hint: Usually contains the phrase “…the worldwide leader in…”) How about an “About Us” section on a company’s web page that gave you with a headache instead of a clue about what they do?
Speaking plainly has become so difficult that it has required an act of Congress to get people to do it. No kidding. It’s called the Plain Writing Act of 2010.
Lewis Black once said “If you have a company, and it can’t explain in one sentence what it does, it’s illegal.” I say for communicators it should be: “If you have a message, and can’t state it one sentence, write it again.”
Some of the best examples of simple communications can be found in well crafted mission statement/slogan combos:
Walt Disney Company
- Mission Statement: To make people happy
- Slogan: The happiest place on Earth [Disneyland]
- Mission Statement: To solve unsolved problems innovatively
- Slogan: Innovation
- Mission Statement: To give unlimited opportunity to women
- Slogan: Enriching women’s lives
If you lived under a rock, you may not know that Disney does everything from theme parks to television networks or that Mary Kay sells cosmetics, but these statements communicate their company’s goals or target audience succinctly. They also lack useless buzzwords like “synergy” or “paradigm shift”.
Author of Plain English for Laywers Richard Wydick best described plain language as: