Posted by: Kristen Ridley | September 20, 2010

Memo to business unit partners from the corporate communicator

Note: I actually wrote this awhile back, but a conversation with a fellow communicator about their challenges with business partners who think “anyone can do communications” has prompted me to post it here. I think most communications people will be able to relate to this experience.

To: All Business Unit colleagues (in any corporate organization )

Memo From: The Corporate Communicator (in same corporate organization)

Re: Our working relationship

Priority: Urgent (not that I expect you to pay any attention to that)

Dear Esteemed Colleagues,

Here’s how it is – Your job is to do/deliver/improve/create “stuff”. MY job is to tell other people (internal/external) about the “stuff” you do (there’s actually a bit more to it, but we both know you don’t care so I won’t go into detail). This could, and should be a straightforward, almost symbiotic relationship. Instead, because you insist upon confusing your job with my job, we have a problem. Yes, that’s correct, I used the “P-word.” I did this on purpose. This is not a “challenge” or an “issue” or an “opportunity” You’re stepping on my toes, and I wear fantastic, expensive shoes, so if you don’t quit it, I will need to take drastic measures [I know “people” – DO NOT test me!].

I am confident this problem can be resolved fairly easily. Toward that end, I have below laid out a few basic, and, I believe, quite manageable items on which I wish to obtain your agreement. There are areas of responsibility for both of us, so I believe this is more than fair.

I won’t try to do your job, if you don’t try to do mine – I am not a Finance, Accounting, HR, Facilities, or IT specialist. Accordingly, you are not a corporate communicator. I appreciate that you do “communicate” i.e. make phone calls, send email, etc. in the course of your work. I apparently need to remind you (for about the 500-millionth time) that those activities are not the same as communicating effectively to a large, diverse and demanding group of audiences. I will not bore you with a lengthy explanation of why you are not qualified to write the employee newsletter, or the content on our external website, or our President’s message to employees. You will simply need to take my word for it and focus on your areas of expertise, which are in fact quite important to our business’s success and require your full attention. Trust me, I am fully capable of getting the newsletter out even without your erudite assistance.

We only use ACTUAL words in the written materials of our organization – I realize this may come as a shock to you, however, the objective of the writing I do on behalf of our business is to clearly, simply and helpfully provide information to our audiences, both internal and external Therefore, “Irregardless” “Impactful” “Synergizing” and other such groupings of letters WILL NOT be included in any of our materials. I realize that you may be under the mistaken impression that these are words. This incorrect perception is not your fault. Other well-meaning, but confused businesses have perpetuated this myth. While I hate to cause you confusion or stress, I am bound, by the Corporate Communicator’s code of honour (sworn in a secret ceremony which takes place on Stonehenge at midnight and involves the sacrifice of “Chat-language-in-business-messages-using-people) to advise you that these are NOT, in fact words. Accordingly, should you put them into any drafts you prepare, I will be removing them and replacing them with actual words. It’s nothing personal – I took an oath.

Your specific business-unit knowledge is a valuable and critically required contribution to the various communications our business requires – You are not, however, either a god, or Hemingway (although confidentially, there are times when I wonder if you mustn’t be slightly intoxicated when you send me comments or changes to my documentation, based on your grammar, spelling and syntax). When I send you something and ask you to “fact-check” the specifics related to your business unit, that isn’t code for “Please re-write my simple, specific prose into a Buzz-Word Bingo card.” If you are having difficulty identifying the “facts” related to your area of expertise, do not hesitate to let me know. I would be more than happy to bold those sections so you have no doubts whatsoever where your attention should be focused, and conversely where you are not permitted, er, required to provide any comments.

Adherence to these few minor items will ensure that we all get our respective objectives completed in a timely fashion, and with the excellence of calibre our shared organization requires. I’m certain that upon reflection, you will appreciate that I am making your life easier by removing the time-consuming responsibility for you to attempt to do my job in addition to your own existing job (and let me assure you again that I recognize how very demanding and important your job is).

Your agreement to these items is most appreciated and will ensure that The Corporate Communicator’s Society is not required to invite you to Stonehenge for an evening “engagement”

Sincere personal regards,

The Corporate Communicator



  1. Brilliant. As Rebecca likes to say, “I like this like I want to marry it!”

  2. Can I hear an amen? AMEN, SISTER! SING IT TO THE SKIES!!

    I so agree with this… can you tell?

  3. Thanks ladies! This is one of my absolute favourite things I’ve ever written. I still giggle every time I read it.

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