10 buzzwords that need to vanish in 2012

Let’s take a moment to reflect on these jargon terms—and then bury them.


Every industry has them.

Maybe you’re short on content for that case study or presentation, or you’re speaking on a topic that you aren’t entirely comfortable talking about.

So, what do you do?

Pull out those “cool-sounding words” that are meant to “wow” your audience—in other words, buzzwords and jargon. Some of these buzzwords have to go.

Here are 10 words that I wish every PR pro, marketer, and advertiser would stop abusing in 2012:

1. Synergy

What, exactly, does synergy even mean? I’ve lost count of the times I’ve heard the term used in news conferences, or read it in press releases and articles. It’s used so often, by so many people, in so many different instances that its original meaning has been lost. Seriously, what does it mean?

2. Klout or +K

Oh, good ol’ Klout. This quasi-mysterious algorithm attempts to quantify influence. The problem is you really can’t quantify influence—at least not yet.

3. Jack-of-all-trades

I’ve had a problem with this one since my days in journalism school, mainly because not everyone who claims to be a jack-of-all-trades is one. It’s usually a clever excuse to glorify mediocrity. How about a new (old) term: knowledge a mile wide and an inch deep.

4. Innovation, innovator, innovative

Just because you call yourself an innovator, doesn’t mean you actually are one.

5. Ninja, guru, expert, Jedi, visionary, chief unicorn chaser

The list goes on and on. (See: “The 12 most ridiculous social media job titles.”) People can call themselves whatever they want, but these colorful titles mean absolutely nothing without additional context. 6. Revolutionary

The War of Independence was revolutionary. Women’s suffrage was revolutionary. The Civil Rights Act was revolutionary. What happened in the Middle East this year, yep, revolutionary. Your new business product is most likely not.

7. Out of the box, thinking out of the box

If you’re using this term, the chances are you’re inside the box.

8. Game-changer

Similar to revolutionary, game-changing moments should be reserved for the winning touchdown pass in the Super Bowl, or the home run that clinched the win in Game 7 of the World Series. Your client’s new approach to logistics—not a game changer.

9. The next big thing

There isn’t enough room in this world for all of the new “big things” unveiled each week—each day, really.

10. Real time

It’s almost 2012, not 1993; everything happens in real time. Let’s scrap this one.

What would you add?

Jessica Malnik is a PR/marketing coordinator, social media specialist and videographer. She writes on her personal blog, where a version of this article originally ran.

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