Why is the employee newsletter so bad?

Most employee publications are bad. Here’s why—and how to make them better.

Most employee publications are bad. Here’s why­—and how to make them better

When my colleague David Murray asked me to write on the professional failings of corporate editors, it made me stop and think: Where to begin? Bad writing is the ocean that I swim in. I read dozens of company publications every day, and, on the evidence, mediocre writing and weak editing are the rule, not the exception.

Here are my conclusions, deductions and surmises from reading hundreds of corporate newsletters and magazines:

1. Corporate editors don’t write enough.

Many of them don’t write anything. They just manage things. Editors are so busy managing the confusion around them that they’ve forgotten how difficult good writing is. And when you’ve forgotten how hard writing is, you’re one short step from forgetting how to write.

Editors have become Managers of Messes, the Keepers of Chaos, just like the rest of the paper pushers in Operations and Human Resources. The corporate editor has fallen victim to pressure from the Assistant Vice President for Communications, who hired her not for the good writing in her portfolio, but for her “managerial skills.’ She has become a paper shuffler like everyone else in the company.

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