Journalism: soul, precision and… war against corporate talk!

Director of Communication & External Relations of BBVAMF

It is a war-cry, yes, one that has to be pronounced, albeit in silence, during these times when accelerated communication is imposed, and the past 10 years has generated more information than throughout the entire history of mankind.

It is a war-cry, yes, one that has to be pronounced, albeit in silence, during these times when accelerated communication is imposed, and the past 10 years has generated more information than throughout the entire history of mankind. This is the age when journalists have to uphold the type of communication that looks at two basic principles in the eye: soul and precision. These are values that cross borders and are common denominators of pure and simple information for opinion pieces, columnists or corporate communication who are currently orphaned, hostaged by an overdose of content superficiality, and sowing a nostalgia which most of us cannot or does not want to identify:

- Is it possible that I lost criteria, my objectivity, that capacity to discern which took me a lot to build and learn? Oh! it must be the stress of the digital age, the compulsive barrage of data that I receive and with which I automatically interact… tomorrow will be a new day

But tomorrow comes and an imprecise and soulless reporting comes in like a diagnosis of a disease that contaminates drafting, social media, news that are recounted too hastily, as “anything goes”. Meanwhile, message-bearing professionals, communicators like us, have the duty towards citizens, readers, listeners or audiences, that they may feel the pulse of life in every word, to give the news the scent of what it narrates, to try to charm its consumers and make them dance along, even though the sound track plays the tune of a revolution: the Fourth Technological Revolution.

All of these lead to think or dream that many institutions and corporations have already noticed and are redefining their models, and are investing in technology and digitalization; that they want to safeguard the heart and soul of their contents, the precision of their messages and the ethics of their rhetoric.

This is the case of the BBVA Microfinance Foundation, aware of the moral responsibility that behind it are more than 8,000 employees and in front, the examples given by the two million people it supports. They are the ones that deserve a good-quality communication, something that would always imply a continuous battle, a daily conquest… And this is where we currently find ourselves fighting with our best weapons to make quality corporate communication that could keep up with our entrepreneurs. We want it to be the mouthpiece of our mission, and to be the pride of those who are part of the Foundation. In this exciting and ambitious challenge, the Communications’ team has a great advantage, in fact, it has five great advantages: it is comprised of professionals from five different countries, with whom we stitch words and sew paragraphs that enrich the taks and, of course, the results.

But… there’s a pending issue in here, over there, and half around the world: war against corporate talk!

War against corporate talk

Together with the United Kingdom, Sweden is pioneer in advancing the usage of Clear Communication: all of its public documents are sealed by a linguistic expert who certifies that they are written in a clear language. It is this simple. For some time now, the French have also been advocating for language simplification, may it be in the administrative, legal, presidential field… in all fields, in fact! In the U.S., it has been taken to a legislative level: since 2010, the Plain Writing Act obliges the government to communicate the simplest possible way to its constituents.

Among Spanish speakers, adopting this tendency is proving to be harder, but… we cannot wait anymore. Filling a written text with formalisms and sanctimonious terms, making it more baroque, is far from communicating well, it actually complicates the message. It’s easy to find news, documents and verdicts that don’t get to the message until halfway through the text. How many times have we had to re-read to understand the message? This is why we have to make an effort to let go of linguistic routines. Experts in plain language are of this opinion (something that we have been able to prove in our daily lives), and they add that corporate talk is contagious, because it doesn’t demand contemplation about what is being shared, one goes almost on auto-pilot: you turn on the routine machine and it does the work.

Plain writing is difficult because it forces us to think about what is it that we are seeing, but the old formula: “subject-verb-object” could help.

Communication is our public image