The Over-Acronymization of PR (and 5 that need to go)

MEMO to all those who mean the PR Newser team harm: Yes, “acronymization” is a word … now. 

Think about what you say on a daily basis at your job in PR, marketing, communications, social media, or some such. If you are like me, you abhor “Buzzword Bingo” and try to avoid it like a cold sore on a first date. However, you just can’t seem to escape the dreaded acronym that plagues this industry.

Think about it. They are everywhere, like a Kardashian only far less annoying. If they are online, you will offer clients abbreviations like “SEO,” “SEM,” “SMO,” and “SERP.” Go offline and you’re stuck there too with “B2B,” “B2C,” “CPG,” and “CTA.”

Meanwhile, I’m over thinking “WTF!”

Why do flacks, creatives and hybrids have to make everything an acronym? Do we sound more like a PR crackerjack when we barf initials out as if we are drunk on alphabet soup? Do you believe clients are so deftly impressed at your ability to summarize volumes of knowledge into three letters that have no business being together? Or, is it because you are just lazy as all get out?

Here is our list of top 5 industry acronyms that have to go…

1. KPI. This sounds like a metric for dead people on “Call of Duty.” No, it’s Key Performance Indicator. And why this isn’t considered a goal or a friggin’ metric is beyond me. I have been informed that KPIs are “important metrics.” To wit, my question was “Then…why not call them objectives, or dare I say ‘goals’?” Of course, the light bulb dimmed overhead and his mind went into screen saver mode. I never got an answer and that dolt still uses KPI, as if we care that a measure of time is a metric but a measure of a corporate strategy is a KPI. Or you know, a goal.

2. CPC. Cost Per Click. Better yet, let’s obliterate Cost Per…Anything. As marketers, we like to devise PPC (pay-per-click) campaigns, so suffice to say, we need to discover the CPC, right? Wait, there’s leads. Those aren’t clicks. Those are people we love and they deserve an acronym, so CPL (Cost Per Leads) was invented. But then, some dunderhead determined by-the-click wasn’t enough so we need to know what was the cost per impression, or the CPM. Wait…what?! Yes, CPM. See, in marketing, some people have to look smarter than they really; thus, the awkward-search-for-the-damn-definition-of-CPM was created. Why not CPI? Because that’s too easy (and it’s the acronym for the esoteric Consumer Price Index). We need to rock that Latin, which mille is “thousand”. Ergo (see what I did there), the acronym is technically Cost Per 1,000 Impressions. I know, moving on.

3. C_O. Listen, I know you folks that make uber-salaries loving standing on top of Castle Grayskull screaming “I have the Power!” That said, your ability to create whatever you want, whenever you want is impressive. Can we just leave it at that because your “Chief” titles are getting on my last nerve. Sure, we all know (and love) “CEO,” “COO,” “CFO,” and of course “CMO” for executive, operating, financial and marketing, respectively. But lately, I’m hearing virtuoso appellations being hurled around like monkeys with their poo — and we know how bad that stinks, yes? There’s “CTO” for technical, but not to be confused with “CIO” for information. The HR people are envious, so I’ve heard “CPO” for people, which is also not to be confused with “CXO” for experience and if you are ever so daring, “CSO” for strategy. And now, marketing folk got in the action with “CCO” and “CDO” for creative and digital, respectively. Stop this whirling dervish. I need to get off and just CYA because I may piss someone off in here.

4. COB, and its ugly twin sister, EOD. What? Did one person in the cube farm start making the acronym of close of business and then that one brown noser who is too lost of a cause for personal hygiene to sleep her way to the top determined that end of day would be much more snazzier of something? Are we talking time zones? Are we talking bankers’ hours? Or, is this just a vain attempt to see what the boss likes best. And don’t even get me started on the inane cliche “at the end of the day.” Here’s a sage idea: How about saying “At 5 p.m.?” I know it takes a rocket scientist to figure that one out, flack fans, but you can do it. Get a digital clock if it helps. Just ignore that whole military time. It’ll just confuse you.

5. RACE. Admittedly, I’m highly sensitive to this acronym, but it has nothing to do with the fact that I’m a proud ALPHA MAN (Ice Cold ’06!). Well, maybe, but regardless, this is so confusing when you use it in a sentence. I heard this once at a national PRSA meeting and good thing I was sitting in the back. My head exploded and that’s not pretty when it gets on a woman’s white blouse. “RACE” stands for Research. Action. Communication. and Evaluation. This four-step process is supposed to show that we are in motion as flacks, but not so much. And I quote, “PR is an industry that’s about race” and “Without race, nothing matters in our industry.” Seriously?! Does someone with a white sheet approve those talking points before they go public? Oy vey.

BONUS. I have another acronym that shares our true sentiment about the over-acronymization of this beloved industry. Enjoy.