Let’s say – let’s just say – you were a huge oil company, or a government agency, desperately trying to recover from a major blunder.  You’re not sure how bad things are or when you can fix the situation. But do you do know you messed up real bad, didn’t move quickly enough to fix the problem and are desperately trying to calm everyone down while you scramble to undo the damage you’ve caused.


Yes, I’m talking about the oil slick the size of Puerto Rico now drifting towards the Gulf Coast. Federal and oil industry officials keep repeating nonsense like “utilizing every available resource” and “mitigating impacts” and wondering why the public doesn’t trust them.


What I’m not hearing enough of, in either official briefings or press reports, are details like:


75 skimmers, tugs, barges, and recovery vessels, as well as dozens of aircraft, remotely operated vehicles, and offshore drilling platforms are spreading chemicals and booms to keep the oil from reaching sensitive shoreline.


They have already put in place more than 275,000 feet of booms l—an increase of nearly 60,000 feet since yesterday – and are preparing to deploy another 316,470 feet.


Nearly 2,000 people are working to protect the shoreline and wildlife.


Those numbers are real (as of May 1) but I had to read past acres of blather in the transcript of a government briefing to find them. The same is true in a lot of business to business marketing materials. Sellers hide behind the jargon they feel comfortable with, the marketing “buzzwords” they feel they must include and the platitudes they think people want to hear rather than using plain English.


Easily understood specifics help the reader or listener understand what you’re doing, and to weigh it against what should be done. The reader (or customer) will eventually learn what a government agency did and didn’t do, and what your product can and can’t do. Why not say it clearly, up-front, so everyone can get on with solving the problem of the day, whether it’s an oil spill or a stalled ERP implementation.


Speak English, not platitudes, to me and I’m much more likely to let you keep drilling for oil offshore, or for money in my wallet.


Author: Bob Scheier
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I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.