MEMO from Yahoo’s David Pogue: ‘Buzzwords Blow!’

For those who know me and appreciate this craft, it’s hardly a secret that I have a man crush on affable consumer tech reporter David Pogue, formerly with the New York Times now enjoying a respite with Yahoo! as he “allows his juices to flow. In fact, for another gig I enjoy with TalentZoo’s Flack Me, I have scribed this and this with Pogue as my muse.

He’s friendly to the flack. He’s a journalist that understands this ofttimes hostile and symbiotic relationship we are privileged to share with reporters and editors. And now that Pogue is no longer with the Old Gray Lady and moved on to purpler pastures, it seems he is getting a little randy with his responses.

And yes, I dig it.

As noted from David Pogue’s Tumblr, he was pitched (and pitched and pitched) by some well-meaning flack that simply got his goat. In fact, he took to the Interweb to correct her verbiage and rewrite her pitch. Greatness! (You know, because it didn’t happen to me.) His gruff was about the use of corporate lingo. Enjoy:

Today, though, my Inbox encountered a particularly persistent PR woman. She hadn’t gotten the hint. She followed up twice to ask why I hadn’t replied.

“Not to bug you,” she wrote, “but just wanted to get your thoughts on the last email. If you’re in—cool. If not, please give me some feedback.”

Feedback? She wants feedback? I’ve got some feedback for her. In fact, I’m prepared to offer her a complete critique, complete with some insight into the life of a tech writer. No charge.

Although I frown upon “getting the hint” strategies, when you are dealing with a guy of Pogue’s ilk and his possible oodles of incoming pitches, it’s understood. So, this assistant account executive wasn’t trained well and decided to poke the mean bear. He growled:

Here’s her pitch — with my notes interspersed.

Hi David. Wanted to chat with you about a shift in eBooks — digital publishing mobile apps such as [her client’s name], which is at the forefront of what we like to call the content convergence trend.

Wow. “Digital publishing mobile apps?” “Content convergence trend?” So far, we have one sentence and seven buzzwords. And no mention of her product.

Rule #1 for PR folks: Know your target. If she knew anything about me, she’d know that buzzwords are my pet peeve. (Actually, if she knew anything about any tech writers, she’d know that buzzwords are a universal pet peeve.)

He opines some more about buzzwords — the bane of his existence that they are — then traipses over to overused cliches, strolls back over to empty corporate jargon and then stomps all over the pitch with vigor by rewriting the thing. Burn! (Hell, more like scorched earth.)

Our fearless editor is thinking how hurling some updated buzzwords to burn for a future post, but let this be a lesson to you, flacks. Why say “move the needle” when “improving” would work? Do you pluck “low-hanging fruit” or just “get the easy stuff”? Are you so awesome that you exert “110 percent” when only 100 will do? Do you work to make something better or “take it to the next level” as only a human elevator would?

Ah well, know your source, kids. You could be the next topic about core competencies and stratagems when you open your kimono and air out your dirty laundry about the bleeding edge or some such.