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Real Response: Body in the bales

OJI Fibre Solutions could not have imagined that its business recycling cardboard would be in the public spotlight for a week. But it was, when a body was found in cardboard bales on the premises.

There was no controversy about the company’s involvement, but as so often happens, the attention spooked the company into a formal “statement”.

The statement started off well, using the investigation to neatly signal its operational prowess: “Because of our ability to track our product, we have been able to identify when the material in which the body was found arrived at our Hamilton site”.

It ruined the spell with corporate gobbledegook: “Given the unprecedented circumstances the company has taken extremely rigorous steps to identify and safeguard the entire product that has been on the Hamilton site to ensure there was no contamination of any downstream product. We will continue to hold material at our Kinleith site for police evidentiary purposes only.”

It’s unclear precisely what the company did. When it says “extremely rigorous”, we are no wiser as to what it did and whether it really was rigorous. Using an example would do the job better.

The company says it made sure there was no “contamination of any downstream product”. It’s talking about body parts. Using corporate speak as euphemism is ridiculous and distasteful. If this is a question being asked by journalists and customers, answer them directly, not by media release.

It made platitudinous expressions regarding the death: “It is a very distressing time for all of us and we are also very concerned to respect the deceased. Our sympathies are extended to his family and loved ones.”

As we’ve proved many times, such trite sentiments are unnecessary, and debase the emotion. Using clichés has at best the same impact as complete silence. At worst, they risk the sentiment being interpreted as an insult by those who do care. If you have a real sentiment, express it directly or act on it, to those who matter, not the public.

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