Month: July 2018

Business Communication Layering: Technical Content For Different Audiences

Tagline: Layering works well as a template for summarising almost all business and technical content: a useful, valuable, legal pyramid scheme. [20 words]

Plain language summary:

Layering is a good technique for anyone writing business or technical content who wants to put across strong messages to different audiences.

It’s powerful, adaptable and based on a simple idea. Your reader matters. Your readers matter.

The template assumes you’re trying to reach different audiences who don’t have the same level of expertise. Or don’t have much time. Or both.

Using a layered summary approach helps you reach everyone you need to. There’s something for everyone, technical expert or general reader, whether they have seconds to spare or much longer.

And you don’t need to worry about what to leave out. Because you can throw the kitchen sink into your final ‘resources’ section.

The extra detail won’t distract or crowd out your summary messaging. But it’s available for anyone who really wants to know more, leaving you to focus on what really matters: the message and your main content.

[150 words: Flesch Reading Ease score 61]

Knowing Your Culture – The C Word In Financial Firms

Culture in financial services firms is – if not exactly a buzzword – more of a concern to regulators today than some of the themes that have historically preoccupied them.

Hardly surprising, given numerous failures of culture stretching back to the 1980s when governments across the world started deregulating markets: financial crises, bank collapses, huge losses, taxpayer bailouts, corporate and individual misdemeanours – many helped along the way by severe problems in the culture of the failing firms.

I’m not going to use this blog to re-hash war stories that have already had ample publicity and coverage over the decades.

Instead I want to focus on what culture in financial services firms means, partly informed by my own experiences past and current. How do firms formulate and package their culture? Can the language that a firm uses in its external and internal communications provide any leading indicators of its culture?

Can stakeholders such as regulators, depositors, investors, employees and suppliers identify and recognise the underlying culture of a firm, in the absence of adverse – but lagging – indicators such as critical losses, collapse or regulatory failure? What signs or behaviours might be revealing of a shallow or expedient culture?

He Said It Himself: Pronouns Are Tricky

Pronouns in English are tricky – perhaps one of the trickiest things to get to grips with – and that applies to both native and non-native English writers.

It’s not so much the pure grammar, which is relatively straightforward. It’s the usage – when to and when not to – and how to ensure they fit into your sentence construction with clear meaning.

This blog looks at both – grammar and usage – and sets out simple guidelines to check against, especially when you’re editing or reviewing your own work.

‘My Name’s Scotland, And I’m An Alcoholic’

[Note on the author: Callum Provan works in Internal Communications for Vodafone Enterprise. He was a student on the City, University of London Writing for Business short course which ended in July 2018. Callum wrote this blog as part of a homework/in-class exercise on that course.]

The passionate, heart-warming, sometimes volatile northern uncle who just doesn’t know when to stop.

It’s the image which has permeated British media for as long as anyone can remember, and it surfaced again as the Scottish Government became the first governing party in the world to introduce a minimum unit pricing cap on alcohol.

As of 1st May 2018, there is now a 50p per unit minimum price on all alcohol sold in Scotland. Supermarket own brand lagers and spirits disappeared from the shelves on the same day.

And with 1,235 alcohol related deaths as a direct result of alcohol misuse in 2017, 30.9 per 100,000 people and 28% higher than second placed Wales, few would disagree that Scotland has a drinking problem, even by UK standards.

But this isn’t the first time the Scottish Government has attempted to tackle alcohol misuse with state regulation, nor is it a move unique to the Scottish National Party.