I was listening to the news this morning and specifically a discussion about why people don’t change banks and what needs to be done to increase choice for consumers. On the face of it this is a world away from my daily work but there was a very clear link. The interview started to focus on the problems of not having clear and simple to understand communication material.
In a nutshell the issue was that if you want to change bank accounts you have to wade through a huge amount of information that is not easy to navigate. What people need is factual material put into accessible formats. So how is this relevant to what I do at work?
It is simple. Public sector organisations have for years been working to ensure information is easily understood, is in plain English and is accessible. There are no excuses if material is over-complicated. If the information isn’t pilloried by the media then it will be attacked by the public and service users. An element of public sector communication is focused on providing clear and simple details of services, processes and how to access them. Don’t get me wrong I know that we don’t always get it right and there is always more work to do in being transparent and accessible but this is many steps in front of the banking sector.
Businesses that have something to sell have a requirement to skew data and information to encourage purchase of the product or service. The Chartered Institute of Public Relations has a code of conduct for all members which requires them to demonstrate the highest professional standards as well as dealing honestly and fairly. This should ensure that clarity is one of the most critical things for all communication. I will be continuing to prioritise communication that provides clear details of what people can expect from the public service, how things work and what to do when there is a problem. I will be watching the developments in the banking sector communication with interest.