There’s a platitude sickness in corporate writing.
I’m a PR professional.
And I sometimes hate what I do for a living.
Most normal people hate corporate bullshit. As a writer, I loathe those corporate platitudes with a feverish intensity. But my corporate brothers and sisters cling to them. And it seems as if it’s getting worse.
What can we do about this platitude sickness?
It’s Not My Fucking Fault, I Swear
As a corporate writer since 2005, one could easily assume that I am responsible for at least two hundred shitty press releases. But I’m not, I swear.
Every time I present something to an organisation, I speak plainly. When I write, I always rewrite to avoid clichés. I strive to add some bounce to my copy — if nothing else, to prevent tired and stale sentences that ring too familiar. 1At this point, I should point out that English is my second language and that I do most of my writing in Swedish. Still, I strive to improve my business English.
I do my best to avoid platitude sickness.
“A platitude is a trite, meaningless, or prosaic statement, generally directed at quelling social, emotional, or cognitive unease. The word derives from plat, the French word for “flat.” Platitudes are geared towards presenting a shallow, unifying wisdom over a difficult topic. However, they are too overused and general to be anything more than undirected statements with an ultimately little meaningful contribution towards a solution.”
But my efforts don’t always pay off.
While some organisations appreciate my efforts, a sizeable portion of everything I’ve written for clients has passed through numerous filters before getting published.
And the result is nothing but a dwindling tirade of corporate cringe.
Not. My. Fault.
Oh, How I Loathe Corporate Cringe
I’m not alone in being frustrated. We’re all exposed to corporate speak. Whether you’re in marketing and communications or not, you’ll see these platitudes everywhere.
And for some reason, platitudes are becoming the go-to format for all corporate texts. It’s getting worse, not better.
I sometimes think this is a pidgin language for different business tribes. We fall back on corporate platitudes to let everyone know we belong in this money-making space. Making sure that we belong to a community is more important than making sense. 2Pidgin languages are a mixture of two or more languages, and they typically develop when two groups in contact with each other cannot speak each other’s language. Many pidgin languages have … Continue reading
It’s mindboggling how many hours organisations spend producing utter garbage.
The “Carpe Diem” Business Mafia on LinkedIn
Corporate platitudes are such a waste of editorial space. Unfortunately, platitude sickness tends to do quite well on social media.
A text loaded with obvious statements and no actual substance can still attract a lot of social engagement. People often hit that “Like” button (emoji button or whatever) without reading the linked article.
Yes, I’m looking at you, LinkedIn.
It’s essential to have a strategy.
Always put the customer first.
Be proactive and think long-term.
Publish epic content.
The “carpe diem” business mafia on LinkedIn can’t get enough of that stuff, right?
An Uphill Battle: Welcome to the Resistance
Yes, getting rid of corporate platitudes is an uphill battle. There are so many filters and so many readers that don’t mind.
Still, there are no excuses for giving up. As communicators, we’re in the business of catching people’s interest and making it worth their time. As we fall deeper into the attention economy, relevance and substance are the only things that can save us.
We might never win this fight, I admit. But even if we can’t win, we can at least make life a bit more difficult for everyone who commits corporate BS.
So, how do you combat platitude sickness in corporate communication?
Make it your mission to find platitudes and destroy them. And don’t let your colleagues get away with using them, either. As this becomes a ritual, you’ll develop an “allergy” to corporate platitudes — and removing them will make you feel better.
Welcome to the fight — you’re in the army now.
|At this point, I should point out that English is my second language and that I do most of my writing in Swedish. Still, I strive to improve my business English.|
|Pidgin languages are a mixture of two or more languages, and they typically develop when two groups in contact with each other cannot speak each other’s language. Many pidgin languages have evolved into full-blown languages.|