Signage confuses and appalls readers, but appeases execs

Signage at a London construction site epitomizes what happens when communicators are forced to write for the wrong audience.

Ragan Insider Premium Content
Ragan Insider Content

I don’t know about you but, whenever I pass a construction site, I always ask myself if they’re doing all they can not to kill me. Often, just to be sure, I cross the street. Well, imagine how happy I was to see this. Isn’t it reassuring to know that the nice people at Balfour Beatty will achieve zero deaths. I mean, as achievements go, it’s a biggie.

But really, what were they doing before the health and safety department decided that zero deaths was one of the company’s Core Attainment Strategy Objectives? Were they actively trying to kill people? As reassuring as this poster is, the diligent student of bad copy will still be left with some niggling doubts. Take “Zero ruined lives among our people,” for instance. (At least they avoided the egregious “amongst.”) Do their people include members of the public?

Sounds like Kill-joy Corporate Lawyer sent another urgent email: “Not sure we can say we won’t ruin any lives. Not, at least, until any members of the public take residence in these balsa-wood rabbit hutches”.

To read the full story, log in.
Become a Ragan Insider member to read this article and all other archived content.
Sign up today

Already a member? Log in here.
Learn more about Ragan Insider.