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Honesty is best policy for business communicators

26 May 08

One of TV's best known newsreaders gave some sound advice at the Communicators in Business awards

On Friday last week I paid a flying visit to Brighton for the UK-wide Communicators in Business awards, where CA Magazine was shortlisted in the Magazine/News Magazine category. Sadly, we didn’t win the overall award but we were in a tough field. As well as the overall winner, Alliance & Leicester’s Let’s Talk, we were up against organisations such as BAA, BP, The Royal Bank of Scotland and the Ministry of Defence, and I was happy to leave with a CiB Award of Excellence.

The British Association of Communicators in Business (CiB) represents a huge range of organisations, from Whitehall ministries to listed plcs, and the media specialists who work with them. It’s an industry often unfairly linked with propaganda and “spin”. Despite that the guest speaker at the awards event, BBC TV’s Huw Edwards, made the serious point that honesty is one of the key elements in successful communication.

Edwards gave the example of former Home Secretary Charles Clarke speaking at – although “confronting” would probably be a more accurate description – a meeting of dozens of senior civil servants from his department. For Clarke, it probably seemed like a nightmare at the time but, Edwards said, he won a lot of praise and respect for addressing the problems the Home Office faced, and listening to what his people had to say, rather than simply ducking criticism.

Whether organisations are communicating with their customers or their staff, they won’t get away with treating them like children. As another great communicator, Abraham Lincoln, put it: “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”

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Communicators in Business | awards
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