PR Buzzwords: Don’t Use Them, and Lose Them

“Leading company.” “Behind the eight ball.” “Drill down.” “Increase the digital footprint.”

If you’re a PR executive who cares about the use of language you probably have started to cringe at the litany of buzzwords and phrases above.

Indeed, a Chicago Tribune feature got us thinking about the propensity among PR pros to use buzzwords.

Picking the Low-Hanging Fruit … and Other Stupid Stuff We Say in the Corporate World,” written by James Sudakow, skewers the language that so few of us understand, according to the review.

We don’t think it’s a stretch to say that PR and ad execs sometimes suffer from an overuse of buzzwords.

Swing a cat—whoops, we just caught ourselves in flagrant violation of a self-imposed ban on using buzzwords—and you can find PR agencies stuffing their news releases and other written communications with useless buzzwords and phrases.

It’s not just that buzzwords betray laziness on the part of the agency and/or managers.

Depending on the client and/or audience, using buzzwords trivializes the message and may even sow confusion among potential buyers.

Better to play it straight. Write as if you are having an intelligent, stimulating conversation with someone who you respect. You don’t want to denigrate the discussion by resorting to buzzwords and hipper-than-thou expressions.

Avoid at all costs.
Avoid at all costs.

This morning during our elevator ride, for example, we overheard one young dude describe his business—we’re paraphrasing—as “an experiential company that inspires people and is transformative in nature.”

Huh? We admire his passion, but wish he spoke English.

So, as a public utility, here are several buzzwords and phrases that PR folks finally can put to pasture, both in written and oral communications. They don’t help anybody or anything.

  • Award-winning
  • Ecosystem
  • Leading company
  • Having said that
  • Scalable
  • Seamless
  • Mission-critical
  • To be honest with you
  • Win-win

Of course, there are many other buzzwords that, when invoked, chip away at the credibility of business communicators. Public relations professionals are a resourceful lot. Losing buzzwords probably is one of the easier tasks on their voluminous checklists.

What words would you add to the list?

2 thoughts on “PR Buzzwords: Don’t Use Them, and Lose Them

  1. As the author of the book, “Picking the Low Hanging Fruit…And Other Stupid Stuff We Say in the Corporate World” I couldn’t be happier to see you guys jumping on this and lobbying for the expression, “ecosystem” to be put out to pasture for PR firms (and I’d recommend anyone in the business world)!

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