If you’re writing about vertically integrated digital-media companies, stop typing
Oh, how I miss the late, great Jargonator, the Gable Group’s tool to help PR pros cut buzzwords from their releases.
Here are three items from the site’s list of the most offensive PR buzzwords:
- Leading. “Trying to find a press release without the word ‘leader’ is like trying to find a Diet Coke in a Pepsi plant.”
- Best-of-breed. “Why would anyone use a phrase that can be just as easily applied to a Chihuahua or a poodle?”
- Solution. “The most overused word in press releases today. Companies used to sell products, now they sell solutions. Dog food bowls are pet-feeding solutions, chairs are sitting solutions, cars are transportation solutions.”
You (or your approvers) may think that buzz phrases — aka words or phrases from Silicon Valley, management, marketing or popular culture — make your message sound more important. But they are actually barriers to communication that make your messages harder to read and understand. (Play a few rounds of Buzzword Bingo if you’re not convinced.)
Stop ‘making the world a better place.’
I love how the characters on HBO’s “Silicon Valley” overuse the phrase, “Making the world a better place.”
Take this speech from the pilot:
And, from another episode:
And the stuff runs screaming for the door …
It seems so ridiculous, but don’t forget how often you hear this level of jargon in real life. Recently The New Republic CEO Guy Vidra said he would transform the 100-year-old publication into a “vertically integrated digital media company.”
For senior editor Julia Ioffe and a bunch of her colleagues, it meant that it was time to leave.
“We don’t know what their vision is,” she said. “It is Silicon Valley mumbo jumbo buzzwords that don’t mean anything.”
Does this buzzword make my brain look big?
Of course you have my permission to make fun of corporate buzzwords, as The Principal’s Derek Lippincott does with this delightful glossary:
- Competencies: Things we don’t suck at.
- Core: Everything is “core” these days. Core values. Core competencies. Core capabilities. Core – Porate jargon.
- Incentivize: The act of planning to give someone a die-cast NASCAR to award a desired behavior.
- Opportunity: Saying “improving claims accuracy is an opportunity for Bob” means BOB SUCKS AT CLAIMS. People need to tell Bob he needs to work on his claims, not say he has an “opportunity” to get better.
- Task: When used as a verb. “I’m going to task Paula to go get me a cookie.”
Avoid business buzzwords.
But with that exception, please think again before using corporate buzz phrases like these in your messages:
- Leveraging our assets
- Information touchpoint
- Targeted completion date
- Critical path
- Professional learning community
You’re not making the world a better place. You’re just making your readers crazy.