My colleagues and I used to write down the dumb corporate language we’d hear, putting the words and phrases on a six-foot whiteboard in the office kitchen.
In little time, terms such as “at the end of the day,” “with all due respect,” “frankly,” and “win win” became the top culprits.
In fact, we filled up that whiteboard and added big sheets of poster paper on either side to keep the game going.
MBAs and wannabe executives were often the ones uttering these mind-numbing words, but they’re not the only professionals who speak this language.
According to a report by twelve thirty eight
, PR professionals are the worst at using buzzwords that have no real meaning. Each year, the firm surveys
500 journalists to find out which buzzwords, jargon, and terms PR pros use
when working with them.
The survey taps British reporters and editors from media outlets such as the BBC, The Telegraph
, the Financial Times
, the Daily Mail
, and more.
The results of the survey revealed what twelve thirty eight calls the “hipsterization” of PR terminology, exemplified by the rise of words such as “awesome” and “super excited.” I have a journalist friend who shares this feeling; she’s fed up with “amazing” (which, of course, makes me use it every other word when I email her).
Journalists in the U.K. also bemoaned the influx of American terminology, including “circle back” or “reach out.”
Twelve thirty eight compiled this list of the top 20 buzzwords identified in the survey. The words and phrases in parenthesis are an attempt to define the meaning.
1. Issues (problems)
2. Dynamic (likely not to be)
3. Paradigm (a “silk purse” word)
4. Elite (you wouldn’t normally get to attend)
5. Hotly anticipated (never heard of it)
6. End-user (customer)
7. Influencer (a person who probably doesn’t have influence)
8. Evangelist (a tendency to tweet with loads of hashtags)
9. Deliverables (tasks)
10. Icon/iconic (use before 01.01.01 or never)
11. Rocketed (made modest progress)
12. “An astonishing x per cent” (it rarely is astonishing)
13. Marquee event/marquee client (probably “very local”)
14. Going forward (in the future)
15. Ongoing (a bit behind schedule)
16. Optimized (changed by consultants then changed back)
17. Horizontal, vertical, etc. (two words in lieu of a strategy)
18. Phygital (easy to press or swipe, we guess)
19. SoLoMo (no idea)
20. Well-positioned (hopeful but a bit scared)
And one of my very favorites: I loathe it when a business is described as “providing solutions.” We see this time and again and it tells us nothing.
You can download the survey
and take a look yourself. Some of the examples the journalists use are downright hysterical. And some, you’ll be sad to notice, you’ve used (but, I’m willing to bet, never to use again).
Gini Dietrich is founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, Inc. She blogs at Spin Sucks.