One reason businesspeople hire communicators is that many businesspeople are accountants, comfortable with numbers for the same reason many veterinarians like animals: They don't understand people.
Take my tax guy, an utterly sweet propeller head who recently sent me and my wife "Cristeah"* a client newsletter that began:
Even in the "gloomier cycles" there are still many things to be thankful for.
If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead, and a place to sleep … you are richer than 75% of the world.
If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish some place … you are among the top 8% of the world's wealthy.
If you woke up this morning healthy … you are more blessed than the million who will not survive the week.
If you can attend a religious service without fear of harassment, arrest, torture or death … you are more blessed than 3 billion people.
If you can read this message, you just received a double blessing that someone was thinking of you and furthermore … you are more blessed than over 2 billion people in the world who cannot read at all.
(And then, without a transition, he gets on with the business of suggesting ways that we can become even more fortunate by dodging taxes through a Home Buyer Credit extension, rolling back our Required Minimum Distribution, and the like.)
If my guy had a communicator to help him, the communicator would have explained, succinctly:
People generally do not like to be lectured about how grateful they ought to feel about their lot in life. They especially don't take well to receiving a cut-and-paste thing that they sense was written for some general audience of American ingrates. And they really don't want to receive this particular message from the person they pay to protect their nest egg, however big or small.
But my accountant doesn't have a communication aid in in his life, and so he goes on sending messages to clients that hurt more than they help.
They say PR advice is really just common sense, and they're right. Still, it's not always easy to come by.
* This is my wife Cristie's name, but she's never used it. Communication lesson number one: A person's name is, to him or her, the most beautiful word in the world. Get it wrong, and you're off to a start so bad you might not be able to overcome it.
I put in a resume for a job once and got an auto-email back thanking me for applying that (I swear to G-d) said:
“Dear Insert Name Here:”