Journalists and PR professionals are often in a tug-of-war when it comes to word usage. What one calls jargon and language abuse, the other feels as accurate, comprehensive and legally sound.
However, as we enter a new year, it is always good to streamline the PR vocabulary. Here are five terms that we see expiring in 2016.
Along with its cousins “best of breed”, “cutting edge” and “revolutionary”, this word makes no sense.
The simple truth is that there is barely a product out there today that can be really termed as groundbreaking. Finding water on Mars is groundbreaking (literally). Launching a new iPhone is not, even if you do think it is going to change people’s already mobile-crazed lives.
Best of all, it is a term that is for the journalist to add, not for a PR professional to define.
It was a nice enough term to describe the sharing-economy, especially for those poor journalists who lived secluded lives and did not really understand the concept of one. But the world has gotten a lot bigger since Uber became lingo for sharing car rides, and we all now live and breathe a sharing-economy.
At best, this association tends to be either dubious or loose. So, for example, when someone says they are building a product that is an, I doubt that the streets are filled with pet vans looking to pick up every dog or cat. Instead, it often tends to be a service offering that is far less of a sharing economy and more of a demand-driven answer.
This inaccuracy can sometimes cloud a business’ real strengths and benefits. Definitely time to drop it.
I predict 2016 will be the year where we use the term “disruption” a lot less. It was a popular term that essentially meant a new way of doing business that ran against current thinking or processes.
Airbnb is often coined as the role model of disruption. Why is this, and who exactly did they disrupt? The pricey, closed accommodation providers. But was it really disruption? The hotel industry was already feeling the pain from price aggregation websites. All Airbnb offered was another option. The fact that there are a lot of people who are willing to stay at another person’s house at a fraction of the price of a hotel should not be surprising to anyone.
We used to do it by simply staying at our friends’ houses. Airbnb just made it much cooler to now lodge at a stranger’s house for a fee. So rather than disruption, it should really be called a cannibalization of sorts.
I can continue debating about the nuances of disruption, but the real point here is that saying a solution or company is disruptive is just not going to cut it anymore. Time to lose this ambiguous term once and for all, or journalists are going to question our claims further.
All hail to the death of “turnkey”. It really means off-the-shelf, or ready to use. Even “off-the-shelf” is reaching the end of its shelf life.
This is an older term that was well used in the days when ERP software was cool and magical (for IT journalists). It defined a product that was not heavily customized or built in house.
Today, in the era of services, this term is useless. So you have a turnkey service? Cool. How does that differ from any other service in the market?
This is right up there with other undefinable terms like “highly unique”, “dynamic” and “empower”. No one really knows why this practice is the “best”. If there is a third party association or institute that has said so, it is always best to quote them.
Today, the term “best practice” is slowly being replaced by the term “proven”. I’m not saying this is better, but at least you can add some reasons why. “Tested” is slightly more accurate and gaining traction at the expense of “best practice”.
In a crowded, information-crammed market, buzzwords are overkill. With a short attention span, PR messaging needs to be direct and accurate. Decorating them with nice yet ambiguous words is only going to be seen as suspiciously evading a hidden truth or adding hot air. It is without question time to discard all of these terms for your 2016 PR activities.