Blog Posts Online Creative Storytelling & Writing The platitude sickness: Taking out the trash of corporate speak

The platitude sickness: Taking out the trash of corporate speak

I sometimes hate what I do for a living.

A sizeable portion of what I write for clients will pass through numerous of filters before getting published. And the end result is nothing but a dwindling tirade of cringy corporate platitudes.

I’m not alone in feeling this way. We’re all exposed to corporate speak. Whether you’re in marketing and communications or not, you’ll see these platitudes everywhere. And for some reason, platitudes are becoming the go-to format for many branded content strategies.

According to Wikipedia:

“A platitude is a trite, meaningless, or prosaic statement, generally directed at quelling social, emotional, or cognitive unease. The word derives from plat, the French word for “flat.” Platitudes are geared towards presenting a shallow, unifying wisdom over a difficult topic. However, they are too overused and general to be anything more than undirected statements with an ultimately little meaningful contribution towards a solution.”

Corporate platitudes are such a waste of editorial space. Unfortunately, the platitude sickness tends to do quite well in social media.

A text loaded with obvious statements and no real knowledge can still attract quite a lot of social engagement. People often hit that “Like” button (or emoji-button or whatever) without even reading the actual article it refers to.

“It’s important to have a strategy.”

“Always put the customer first.”

“Be proactive and think long-term.”

“Publish epic content.”

Their engagement reflects how they agree with the headline and how it adds to their own personal worldview1. It’s probably also a psychological bandwagon-effect2 at play, a way of signal belonging to important social circles.

So, how can you combat the platitude sickness in your corporate communication?

Make it your personal mission to find platitudes and to destroy them. As this becomes a ritual, you’ll develop an “allergy” to corporate platitudes — and removing them will become second nature.

Welcome to the fight — I’m happy to have you onboard.

Photo by Niko Lienata on Unsplash.


  1. See Wikipedia: Cognitive Dissonance.
  2. Wikipedia: The Bandwagon Effect.
Avatar of Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer aka Doctor Spin is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

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