At (insert organisation name) we …

We shun the sentence construction … At (insert organisation name) we … in fact, whenever we see this particular piece of business writing we do our best to rid the world of it.

What am I talking about? Here are three examples”

  1. “At Google we often say ‘bring your whole selves to work.'” (here)
  2. “At Westpac we want you to discover a rewarding career” (here)
  3. “At OUP we have a clear mission which informs everything we do” (here)

When you refer to your organisation you have to consider what you are describing. Are you describing a building, an institution or are you describing a group of people?

People give their trust to other people

The answer is quite simple. You should be describing a group of people who together form the organisation. Note this is not a philosophical question or a management question; it is simply a question of good business writing.

When you are writing about an organisation it is important to give the organisation human characteristics (what is called in science, anthropomorphising). This is important in a business context. Primarily you are trying to build trust. People don’t give their trust to buildings or organisations they give their trust to the people in the organisation.

Create the sense of a relationship

In persuasive writing you are ultimately trying to create a sense of a relationship; and business relationships only really exist between people.

So, when I start a sentence with “at Madrigal Communications” I am turning my organisation into a place not a group of people. You would never say “at my family” or “at my team” because “at” is a preposition that mostly identifies position—it is a locator.

When I write “at Madrigal Communications we …” I am essentially separating the people from the organisation. It is similar to saying “at our business we …”. By using this construction, I am sending a message that the employees are not the same as the business.

Is … at (insert organisation name) we … good grammar?

Lets start with … “At OUP we have a clear mission …”. The Oxford University Press should know better. So let’s dissect this phrase. At University Press which is a place, an institution in Oxford (I have worked there, its delightful). Then there is a collective noun “we”. Who is we? The noun that the pronoun represents has not been defined, that’s poor. Slightly better is the construction “At OUP, we ….” because the comma separates the phrases and then the we, by ellipsis, suggests that the people who are located at OUP but I am not too sure.

An organisation is a team of people

What’s the alternative? What we really should be talking about is the organisation as an entity that is made up of a team of people. Therefore, we start our sentence construction with …

… Madrigal Communications uses good sentence construction.

So, Madrigal Communications, here, is a singular thing, just like a team is a singular thing.

But when you are writing about your organisation in the body of the document, just as I am now writing about mine, you want to personalise the narrative. We use the first person (I or we) but if you are writing about another organisation you write in the third person (they or it). As this illustrates:

… Madrigal Communications uses good sentence construction. We are not tolerant of bad writing and we are always crusading for better writing.

Contact Madrigal Communications for help with your business writing.