April 8, 2009
Author and viral marketing specialist David Meerman Scott analyzed 711,123 press releases from 2008 to determine the most commonly used gobbledygook words and phrases. And the, uh, winner? Innovative. (Web Ink Now)
Don Bates says:
Is this supposed to be surprising? Public relations people have been torturing the English language for generations although it's interesting to note that PR pioneers of yore, like Edward L. Bernays and Ivy Lee, were strong, credible writers who hated cliches (dare I say it?) like the plague. What has happened to turn so much PR writing into hyperbolic drivel? PC's, email, blogging, social media? And why do so many PR managers tolerate the abuse? Journalists certainly hate it as my just published research with U.S. media shows -- http://www.gwu.edu/~media/research_report.pdf. Or is it all about clients and employers controlling the messages and words? We know they think everything they do is unique, innovative, cutting edge, unparalleled, unmatched, etc. Could it be that PR people are simply regurgitating what their clients and employers want in order to keep their jobs or make a buck? I hope that's not the case but David Meerman Scott's research seems to suggest that it is.
Jean Van Rensselar says:
Unfortunately, journalism has become cliche phobic. Despite popular opinion, cliches are useful. For example, people understand what "world class" means - two words, rather than an entire sentence to explain. Despite what the Microsoft theaurus says, "excellent" and "world class" don't mean the same thing. Also, people warm to cliches. Cliches aren't poisonous, nor are passive sentences - the idea is to use both judiciously.
Angelique Rewers says:
I have to agree with Don on this one. PR folks know that journalists hate this gobbledygook yet PR pros continue to proliferate it. One reason just may be that PR folks and/or the executives/clients they support are conditioned that in order for something to sound "official" or "intelligent" it has to use jargon instead of plain, simple English. This is a topic I cover frequently in my free e-magazine, The Corporate Communicator. http://www.bonmotcomms.com/newsletter.html
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