PR agency teams, especially those in tech PR, LOVE to speak in jargon. We have shorthand for nearly everything and sometimes forget that people outside our organization or industry might not know what we’re talking about. While those in PR are more than happy to explain what our unique vocabulary means, there are certain phrases that should be eliminated. Some don’t hold meaning anymore, while others are confusing or trite. Some were made up somewhere along the line to make us sound more interesting. Let’s take a look at a few phrases we should start phasing out of our vocabulary.
PR pros are accustomed to hype. We want to exceed expectations by getting the best media coverage possible. When sharing coverage, we often say ‘this is exciting’ when in reality the outcome was our goal. Instead of positioning every last piece of work as exciting, we’d be better off explaining why it’s credible, effective, or persuasive. The same holds true for the quotes we may write in press announcements. Instead of the CEO saying he’s ‘excited’ about the new deal or product, it’s better to describe what positive changes it will bring. When it comes to hyperbole, less can be more – credible, that is.
Similarly, in press releases, PR teams often highlight an offering as ‘unique’,‘one of a kind’, or ‘groundbreaking.’ If it is in a press release, of course we may feel pressure to position it as something the industry hasn’t seen before to gain more media attention. Yes, the news may be offering something unique to the company, but don’t position it as a reinvention of the wheel unless it is truly going to change the industry.
For those of us working in tech PR, ‘disruptive’ is used frequently, which has made it an empty word. it has basically lost its meaning. Companies (and their PR teams) like to say their offering will disrupt and change the industry but in reality it may be a flashy term used to say ‘hey look at this!’ Avoid saying this if you can, as it holds very little meaning in the tech media world.
Bringing this to the top of your inbox
PR pros juggle multiple tasks and will keep a running list of things to check in on. More than once have we started an email with ‘bringing this to the top of your inbox.’ Yet at times this can come off as impatient or pushy if only a few hours or a day have elapsed since it was sent. Worst of all, it increases the email clutter. It’s better to state a deadline attached to the request, highlight the most important stats, and follow-up with any new or additional information.
Think outside the box
In PR we are taught to look at problems from different angles and think of every possible scenario. We are also looking for ‘breakthrough’ ideas for telling stories. Yet in my view the phrase is redundant. We work in an industry where everything is not black and white and we often must see all angles to a problem or story. We should always be thinking ‘outside the box’ to consider all perspectives on a given situation.
We’re proud to announce…
How many press releases have you seen that start with these words? It seems a bit obvious. Of course you’re proud! To replace this phrase, tell us why the news is mediaworthy and what it will change.
Let’s discuss this offline
We live online now. From virtual meetings to Zoom happy hours, the majority of the work is digital. But how many times have you said this in a meeting? A few years ago, maybe it meant something different but now it seems outdated. Simply say you will discuss this at a later date/time because the discussion will most likely be online.
Across the corporate world, this is probably the most overused phrase. What does it mean today? It’s usually used in a sentence like ‘how can we leverage that data?’ Leverage is so jargony at this point, swap it out for ‘use’, ‘capitalize on’, ‘take advantage of’, or even ‘harness’.
I think if the last two years of work-from-home life has taught us anything, it’s that there is no such thing as normal. We are constantly adapting and shifting to change. The phrase ‘new normal’ is outdated in 2022. We have learned to take things as they come, so there’s really no ‘new normal.’
You are on mute
It is 2022 and the majority of us have been on Zoom daily to connect with executives, media and team members. At this point, everyone should know how to work the mute button!
What phrases do you think should be removed from a PR’s pro vocabulary? Let me know on Twitter @colleeno_pr.