These 20 Words Should Be Burned From PR in 2016

By Shawn Paul Wood Comment


For years, we have been warning you of the most heinous, noise polluting, ear bleeding buzzwords in the industry (see here, here, here, and here).

Avoid them like possible suitors of Taylor Swift, because who really wants to be the topic of her next song, amirite?

Regretfully, PR pros just can’t help themselves. Maybe it’s the pressure of a new business meeting? Perhaps the ambience of a conference room forces them to sound like a dope?

Whatever the reason, ’tis always the season to quote the spleen-rupturing buzzword.

Here are some words to stop saying, ASAP. We’d appreciate your attention to this matter.

First, oldies but not-so-goodies:

1. At the End of the Day. Let’s just wait until the sun goes down and possibly Dracula or the Werewolf can kill the next person who says this doltish idiom.

2. Innovate. Since we are so big on this word, how about we please innovate another word that means “my client makes really cool stuff.”

3. Drill Down. Do you work in the petrochemical field? Fancy fracking much? What about a carpentry? Unless you plan on using said power tool, let go of this phrase.

4. Solution. This word is actually important when used correctly because it’s fairly accurate and descriptive. Unfortunately, it doesn’t solve the need for someone to use a thesaurus more often.

5. Stakeholder. At first, this mysterious person had a stake in the plan. Then, it was a share or a stake because who knows?! Now, it’s like a bottlenecker driving next to a wreck.

6. Leader. We get it. Journalists get it too. You can’t say your client is “the best” because that sounds too haughty, so masking it as near the front of the pack will help. Only, it never does.

7. Take It Offline. You do realize you we were never online, right? Unless you are having a chat via IM or Skype, just unplug it.

8. Low-Hanging Fruit. For the love of God, can we simply break this twig so that fruit can roll on down the hill and stop hanging. Set it free already.

9. Open the Kimono. Evidently, there is a rather large and spunky nudist colony in Kyoto because a few PR firms have been fascinated with someone’s private parts. Can we put a full-length trenchcoat on, please?

10. Like. Why? Because, like, people use this, like, too damn much when they, like, can’t think of anything else to, like, say.

And now, some new lingo that is about as loathsome as a client in PR calling the reporter directly because “the interview didn’t go as expected”:

1. I Can’t Even. …What? Finish a complete sentence? Yeah, we thought so. Please shut up.

2. Disrupt. This, or any form of the word (i.e., disrupting, disruption), is being used more than a Kardashian piece of B-roll on TMZ.  Let’s say, it’s disrupting the way we do business because social media is a thing.

3. Influencer. So, a person has a gaggle of followers or fans on social media. What makes someone influential? Having followers or having some sort of sway to stir up conversation?

4. Break the Internet. Kardashian’s big caboose didn’t do it. Not even Tim Berners-Lee did it. So, trust us, whatever concoction your client derives won’t either.

5. Literally. Unless you are describing something exactly, then the word is not for you.

6. Core Competency. So, you’re updating a resume or writing a bio and then it dawns on you — you need a hoity-toity way to our client is really good at something. And then, the rest of us pause to define “competency.” You’re client is just good enough.

7. Unicorn. In times of mythology, or during a peculiar Brony convention, the unicorn was considered a creature of rare beauty because it didn’t exist. Today, the strategic meaning behind using this word doesn’t exist either.

8. Sorry Not Sorry. Do you realize how stupid it sounds when people use a double-negative in a sentence? What about a contradiction? Make up your mind if you are sorry or not…and then stick with it.

9. Cray-Cray. Tell us something, young PR pros. Don’t you find it strange that the same people who spend an extra second to repeat half a word, also type “u” instead of “you” in emails? Life is about balance. Namaste.

10. Rock Star. This term use to carry some prestige, some panache, some je ne se quoi. Today, thanks to our colleagues in cube farms who think Bruno Mars and Justin Bieber are “rock stars,” this term needs to die like MTV.