Change Communication Fail: Google’s GDPR Message

Last week, I received this e-mail from Google. My eyes immediately glazed over as I scanned the nearly 700 words of dense text and tried to figure out what this message was telling me.

I’m still not sure. It wasn’t the best example of change communication I’ve ever seen, to be honest.

Google failed on a few fronts here:

  • The message isn’t targeted. It seems to have been sent to all users, regardless of whether all aspects of the note applied to them. That means readers have to sift through all the copy to find out what they need to do.
  • The message is riddled with jargon; way too many initialisms and acronyms. You need a glossary to keep everything straight, making the language opaque and confusing to the un-indoctrinated.
  • The copy itself is unclear and overly legal in tone, making it seem more like a Google CYA than an actionable change message.
  • There are numerous links, each leading to extremely long sites and messages with even more difficult-to-navigate copy. You would need a free weekend to make your way through it all.

A few suggestions for Google’s next attempt:

  • Shorten it up and clarify the copy. Use shorter words and more accessible language.
  • Break the messages into separate topics and send them only to impacted stakeholders.
  • Clarify the call to action, and be specific about what the reader needs to do next.
  • I was joking before, but if they need to include all the initialisms, they might want to include a glossary for reference.

Watch this space for more change communication fails and successes!

Laura Osifchin

Laura Osifchin, MBA, managing partner, is an expert in using strategic marketing communications and commercial engagement to drive successful change initiatives, build brands and grow businesses.

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