A Very Bad Sign (Literally)

Pavement signs are fantastic – your business can leap beyond the boundary of your premises and stand in the path of potential customers. What a jolly good idea!

But, it does help if the sign contains some tempting invocation to pull people towards your enterprise. I recommend you strive for something marginally more persuasive than this:

A Bad Sign
A Bad Sign

Twitter: Make the Most of Every Tweet (You Receive)

Quick version

Get the most out of Twitter – make sure you notice when people address you, and respond when it’s appropriate.

Long version

In my opinion, Twitter is best when it’s a fairly open channel of communication. This means that you let people freely read your tweets, and you allow yourself to be easily contacted by others – even if you don’t know them.

It’s this degree of openness that recently allowed me to quiz Matt Cutts of Google on a couple of SEO-related issues. It’s staggering that I can have such easy, friendly access to a key person at one of the world’s largest companies.

To get the most out of Twitter, it’s important to regularly check your @replies (see image below). If you use Twitter as a communications channel, it’s crucial that you catch the important messages that come your way.


Corporate Communication Catastrophe

This isn’t really a catastrophe; the alliterative headline was irresistible.

Corporate communication is a difficult thing to get right. There are endless possible ways to say something and invariably many people choose the wrong way.

I’d like to show you a couple of examples that I noticed recently, and explain why they could be better. The following two signs are from the toilets of a popular chain of coffee shops. This one:

Bad Sign

doesn’t make sense. The first sentence stops before it can be finished. We know what they mean, but only because we can piece together their intention from the fragments of thoughts they give us.

I don’t know how many of these signs were printed, but it’s incredible that nobody tried to read the sign before it was approved for printing.

As if one confused sign wasn’t enough, we come to exhibit B:

Bad Sign 2

This sign suffers from a common complaint. The language used is anachronistic. Nobody speaks like this, yet we all feel obliged to get all fancy and archaic when it comes to anything official.

It would be easier for everyone if the sign writer had simply written: “Please don’t flush nappies or sanitary towels down the toilet. Please use the bin provided.”

Of course, the sign also contains another blunder: it should say “disposal bin” rather than “disposable bin”. A disposable bin is a strange concept. Rather like a flammable lighter. But even “disposal bin” is too much. “Bin” will suffice.

The most common flaw with corporate communication occurs when organisations forget that a business is made up of people, and that customers are people too. So really we should remember that we’re just people speaking to people. Drop the veil of formality, and write as you would speak.

Why clear communication should be your priority


Smart business people recognise the value of good communicators.

If your organisation doesn’t value communication, you may be wondering why people don’t get what you do.

Poor communication at all levels of an organisation can be the cause of:

  • Confused customers
  • Disillusioned staff
  • Unclear goals
  • Bad products/services.

If your team doesn’t include any talented writers, consider using a freelance copywriter to boost the quality of your organisation’s communications.

(picture courtesy of Sascha on Flickr)

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