Some organizations, despite the important work they do, struggle to communicate with the public over digital channels. A lot of this has to do with the fact that these organization don’t tweak their messaging for the channel and associated audience. They try to apply familiar approaches to new platforms which can be as effective as holding a news conference using a fax machine.

I believe the problem exists for one or more of the following reasons:

  1. Legal teams insist on ambiguous and homogenized messages
  2. Leadership teams embrace corporate-speak and jargon
  3. Communication decision-makers prefer announcements that sound official

Canada’s Transportation Safety Board — which is celebrating 25 years as an institution, today — does a very good job with its online communication activities. It shares photos and keeps people updated on their activities over TwitterYouTube and “The TSB Recorder” blog.

The one thing the TSB consistently does in a clunky way is announce, over Twitter, that it’s deploying an investigation team. The TSB has adopted the Tweet template “deploys [team/investigator] to [derailment/incident] at [location] [link to article].”


Earlier this morning I saw an even clunkier version. Following a horrific hard landing involving an Air Canada jet at Halifax International Airport, the TSB tweeted “deploys a team to an occurrence involving an Air Canada aircraft at Halifax International Aiport, NS.” Occurrence?


Variations of TSB tweets like this are generally rare (they’ve issued only 14 of these out of 200 tweets over the last 90 days). Still, they are jarring. They attract responses like this…


It seems to me the TSB should revise its template using messages like:

  • We’re on our way to Halifax Int’l Airport to investigate an incident involving an Air Canada jet.
  • We’ve sent a team to Halifax Int’l Airport. An incident involving an Air Canada jet took place there last night.
  • Our investigators are heading to Halifax Int’l Airport. An Air Canada jet had a hard landing last night.

Congratulations to Canada’s TSB and the ts team on 25 years. Your services are invaluable and you do a very good job publishing content and updates online.

Featured image from the header of The TSB Recorder.

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