Scott Monty - Strategic Communications & Leadership Advisor

Scott Monty - Strategic Communications & Leadership Advisor

Jargon in action

You probably saw the news earlier today that Verizon is acquiring AOL for a cool $4.4 billion. It's clear that Verizon's move is one that will help it focus primarily on advertising technology and video content.

However, if you read Verizon's press release on the topic, you might be scratching your head.

Here are some excerpts from the release:

AOL is a leader in the digital content and advertising platforms space, and the combination of Verizon and AOL creates a scaled, mobile-first platform offering directly targeted at what eMarketer estimates is a nearly $600 billion global advertising industry. AOL’s key assets include its subscription business; its premium portfolio of global content brands, including The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Engadget, MAKERS and AOL.com, as well as its millennial-focused OTT, Emmy-nominated original video content; and its programmatic advertising platforms.
Lowell McAdam, Verizon chairman and CEO, said: “Verizon’s vision is to provide customers with a premium digital experience based on a global multiscreen network platform. This acquisition supports our strategy to provide a cross-screen connection for consumers, creators and advertisers to deliver that premium customer experience.”

Josh Bernoff, who recently launched his writing and consulting business, Without Bullshit, to help free the world of bad and meaningless writing, took Verizon to task for its wording. He critiqued the press release and boiled it down to a "short version":
The traditional TV delivery world in which Verizon FiOS competes is exploding. People keep watching bits of video promoted on social networks on their mobile devices. AOL has properties that it can succeed in that world with assets like Huffington Post and its original video productions, so Verizon bought it. We couldn’t let Netflix take over the world without a fight.

That makes it a little easier to digest, doesn't it? But there's an underlying message here that you shouldn't miss.

If the language of the announcement is confusing, fraught with industry jargon and generally antiseptic - especially while heralding a new era of improvements of "premium customer experience" - what kind of focus on the customer would you expect out of the company? Do you think it's going to be an easy to navigate system that is all about a good customer experience? Or do you think that the focus will be on scaling the advertising and creating more content?

Everything Communicates

From the way your front line employees treat customers, to the way your customer service representatives handle issues, to how you handle your corporate Twitter account and the cleanliness of your stores' bathrooms - it all makes a statement about what your brand stands for.

Corporate strategies and slick marketing materials mean nothing if there isn't a complete consistency of message and brand across your company. It's got to be a cultural thing, not something heralded in a press release or slogan.

If your brand is supposed to stand for something, then make it all about that. You can't act one way and tell us you're something else. Because as Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote,
Who you are speaks so loudly 
I can't hear what you're saying.

Image credit: Roxanne Ready (Flickr)

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