We have discussed catchphrases and buzzwords that should be erased from memory immediately. They are the worst, and used so much that they have become the replacement of “um,” “uh,” and “you know what I’m sayin’?”
No! No, we don’t.
To add to that prestigious list are real words (except one seen below) that have been used in popular settings like new business pitches, client kickoff meetings, and media interviews. Yes, way.
Although we did this in June, which revolved around the word misappropriated term “homophobia,” here we go again. Please take note and spread the word. Save the industry. #PRCares.
Why “14 words or phrases” that we in this industry need to stop using? Because it’s 2014 and that’s symmetrical. And if I don’t make a cut-off point, our fearless leader may take my listicle privileges away. So, 14 it is. Got your steno pad?
1. “That’s so ghetto.” I don’t know which is worse: People using this term when they don’t have the slightest inclination what living on the set of “Good Times” means, or just that white people appear as complete douches using this term when cackling together. Either way, it’s not a good look.
2. Actually. This is right up there with literally. This word is abused and misused more than times than a padded impressions metric on a monthly report. When I hear someone say, “I actually died,” I think “When I went to seminary, I only heard of one person who actually died and came back to tell about it.” Yes, you didn’t say literally but this doesn’t help your cause.
3. “With all due respect.” Do you ever lay on the horn right before you plow into someone’s car? Does a burglar ever ring the doorbell seconds before he steals everything in the place? This is any corporate type’s way of ripping out your heart before he or she actually does it. Whenever you preface respect, you are about to disrespect like crazy. How about just be honest and swing for the fences without the practice shot first?
4. Game Changer. This has grown to one of those nails-racing-across-a-chalkboard terms to be chronicled in the annals of public relations history in record time. Landing on Boardwalk on your first go-round in Monopoly? That is a game changer. Your cute product with one extra widget? That is just shilling with purpose.
5. “I gave 110 percent.” What is wrong with mathematical drama is that everyone is trying to one-up each other. From the client’s boardroom to the sports venue of choice, people who can’t figure out the world of percentages are giving 150, 200, and even 1,000 percent for that extra effect. You worked hard, we get it. Just say that and give algebra a chance, okay?
6. YOLO. Can we just all agree that we do only live once, and anyone who makes stupid decisions to shorten that life, should be allowed to do so without getting it on someone else? Great. Then go live and at least stop sounding like a grammar school reject by not saying this. BTW, say this and we can’t be friends.
7. “Best of breed.” You want to tell your client that your agency is at the top of the food chain in a particular vertical, right? Say best. Why do you have be contestants in the Westminster Kennel Club? No one likes those fru-fru poodles looking like a cloud puked on the stage anyway. And now, you want to convey that thought in a meeting? Go get some dog treats and be quiet before you hurt yourself.
8. Awesome Sauce. One day, some inventive soul is going collect all this awesome being spilled in PR pitch meetings, brew up a sauce and sell it, and then you are out one ridiculous catchphrase. If something is awesome, let it stand on its own. A sauce just makes it messy. And a bit stupid.
9. “X people can’t be wrong.” Yes, that’s impressive. These many people use your client’s product so your latest journalist in the crosshairs will quite naturally be impressed. You know, unless you use that doltish phrase on the phone, and then you have killed that pitch immediately.
10. Synergy. This used to mean something once, although I didn’t really care then either. If you do not wear a white coat rocking a pen protector and hang out in a place with centrifuges and Bunsen burners, stop synergizing for the love of God! This is PR, not physics (although the way some folks act, you would think formulaic equations were necessary to communicate).
11. “Go the extra mile.” Although you may enjoy the occasional journey in your car, and traveling past your appointed exit, stick to the map please. This vague parlance doesn’t impress anyone. Actually, it just shows you waste gas and no one likes that guy these days. Don’t go out of your way, just drive direct.
12. Champion. I admit, I have used this term because saying “advocate” was getting a little stale. However, no one cares about your gold-medal winning ways when you say it. When you champion this or that, I have seen clients whip out a letter opener and consider cutting themselves with it. You should not champion anything unless there is a Wheaties box nearby, and even then, it’s probably not a great idea.
13. “Very unique.” The word unique means “one of a kind” or “unlike anything else.” So, you can’t be very one of a kind, or very unlike anything else. Make sense? Thanks. Now stop qualifying this word with that extra bit of oomph or you will just sound very stupid.
14. Double down. Is this a butchered term that got its roots in Vegas casinos or the Kama Sutra? Personally, I hear this in pitch meetings and want to take a bath. It sounds dirty, almost cringeworthy. And unless I was a client with a gambling addiction, I would not connect with the term — or the fool using it. Go fish?