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Friday, 29 January 2010

Is David Brent sabotaging your PR?

word cloud of business jargon

Jargon and abbreviations are a handy shortcut when communicating with fellow specialists, but it excludes others. That's why jargon is a serious barrier to general communications and PR.

In a world where budgets need to be signed off by a variety of specialists, including finance departments, we would argue that jargon is an expensive liability, not an asset.

Clients sometimes say they have to prove to clients that they can speak the technical lingo. That's fine. But please don't hit people with incomprehensible jargon on the main web pages. There's a place for technical language and it's in technical papers and reports.

The Internet gives us the ability to layer information, so those needing more detail can click through to increasingly denser layers.

Even when speaking to technical specialists, nowadays there are so many narrow specialisms. It's quite likely that two similarly qualified engineers could baffle each other with jargon. But would they admit that? Or gloss over the point?
Why risk it?

Jargon simply doesn't foster useful or productive business relationships.

In general business areas, jargon has crept in as a form of one-up-man-ship. People use ridiculous jargon to signal they're up with the latest management fads, as satirised so mercilessly by the David Brent character in 'The Office' TV series a few years ago.

Since that programme, many people associate 'management-speak' with idiots who may harbour a penchant for bad break-dancing!

A recent Accountemps survey of 150 top US executives listed the following top annoying jargon words:

Reach out
It is what it is
Game changer
Circle back

Words on the list that also appeared in their earlier (2004) survey were:

At the end of the day
Think outside the box
On the same page

Sad to say, almost of all of these words have been suggested to us for inclusion in web copy.

The David Brents live on...

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Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Environmental Legislation Over-view

accreditation logo for PHPR in the Green Business Partnership with 2 ticks
PHPR is a member of the Green Business Partnership and has two green accreditations put of a maximum of three.

Thank you Business Environment Partnership - now the Green Business Partnership-  and Edinburgh Council for today's workshop for smaller businesses on environmental legislation. With good input from SEPA on their advisory and monitoring roles.

Since 1990, enviro requirements on business have been mounting, thanks to European legislation. But exactly how that affects individual businesses can be tricky to work out. There's certainly no shortage of paid-for services to subscribe to, and consultants to lead you through the maze.

I'm very pleased to discover the excellent free resources where you can get a bespoke answer as to your environmental compliance requirements at the Business Link site.

Once you have your legislation list, that's the foundation for your Environmental Management System (EMS). Then you need to to dig deeper to find out what you need to do about each individual piece of legislation by searching Netregs. There's a free text box at the top right, but you can also run searches by business type, enviro topic, or go through current & future legislation. Netregs streams info according to location as the Scottish Parliament have their own variants, as do England & Wales, and Northern Ireland.

The Netregs site has been recently re-vamped so it's worth re-visiting if you haven't been there for a while.

You can sign up for their updates so you stay up-to-date.

There's enough info there to help you create your own Environmental Management System (EMS).
I'm told they are going to expand their e-learning tools for specific sectors. These currently cover agriculture plus food and drink.

Another way to get help with planning your EMS is to go in for the VIBES awards, Scotland's top environmental awards for business, which feed into the European environmental awards, with seriously good international publicity exposure and networking opportunities.

The VIBES application form covers the main building blocks you need and the feedback from the judges (free to all award applicants) will give you an expert steer. I used that to move our long-standing environment policy (first written in 1986, based on reduce, re-use and re-cycle) to a more sophisticated level encompassing carbon offsetting for necessary business energy use and travel. We got our expert feedback and followed the judges' advice. We entered again last year, to be rewarded with a place on the shortlist.

Once shortlisted, you receive an intensive visit from the judges, to prove you have demonstrated exceptional environmental performance, and of course, it's a great opportunity to get further bespoke advice. And we got serious new business enquiries at the awards ceremony itself, which was a welcome bonus.

One of the key messages I took away from today's workshop is that it's not enough to assume a waste contractor has the full range of licences they need for both transporting and disposing of different types of waste. You need to check this and be able to stream your waste for the most cost-effective disposal.

You also need to make sure that the paper trail is properly signed off when you hand over the responsibility for your waste to a contractor.

Otherwise, if your stuff is found dumped illegally, you can't prove you were not responsible and you will be held liable. That could mean a fine of several thousands of pounds.

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