100 PR Buzzwords that need to go six feet under

By Ronnie Manning

As I was writing the other day, I was thinking about all the Buzzwords that have come and gone (and I have used) during the last decade - the one that has always stuck in my head is ‘industry luminary’- I always pictured someone who glows very brightly speaking in front of a massive audience. 

Today, it seems that as new technologies are developed and created, a Buzzwords is born.  I decided to send the question to my peers in PR and Media to ask them what Buzzwords they would like to see wiped off the face of the earth – and yes, the term ‘Buzzwords’ itself ranks highly. 

Even though this isn’t scientific by any means, the results were still interesting and entertaining.  Out of nearly 200 Buzzwords submitted, 100 different terms were received to compile the list.  The words have been grouped together based on their popularity (or lack thereof).  Also included are some defining quotes for the best of the groups.

The one time mentions:  All-in-One, Attention Mode, Bandwidth, Best Practice, Blogosphere, Client-driven, Cloud, Complete Approach, Core Competencies, Critical Mass, Customer-Centric, Dashboard, Digital Solution, Dynamic, Earth Shattering, Easy-to-Use, End Product, Enhancement, e-Tailing, Ever-Changing, Evolving, Excited (in a quote), Exclusive, Expert, Fierce, First-of-a-kind, Full-Service, Fully scalable, Global, Green, Groundbreaking, Honored (in a quote), Hottest Trend, Human Capital, Integrated, Intuitive, Long Tail, Market Leader, Mashup, Next Generation, Next Level, Off the Grid, Offline, Optimize, Out-of-the-box, Platform, Pleased (in a quote), Press Release, Presser, Proactive, Raise the Bar, Reality TV, Redefine, Result-Oriented, Rightsizing, Robust, SEO, Smarter Measurement, Spin Room, Streamlined, Sustainability, Symbiotic, Thrilled (in a quote), Tipping Point, Top-of-Mind, Trend, Utilize, Web 2.0, Win-Win, World-class

Those that got called out twice: Award-Winning, Disruptive, Evangelist, Industry-Leading, Mission Critical, Pioneer, Real-time, Scalable, Thought Leader

Thought Leader – “It was a good word; the concept of Thought Leadership as part of a PR strategy is very important. Yet, like most useful concepts in PR, the term devolved into a buzzword that gets thrown around like confetti.” - Kevin A. Mercuri 

Those that got called out thrice: Best-of-Breed, Bleeding Edge, Influencer, Rock Star, Seamless, Turnkey, User (User-Friendly)

Best-of-Breed – “I didn’t realize we were promoting purebred animals.” - Adam Novak

Four times is a charm: Guru, Innovative (Innovator), Leading-Edge, Paradigm (Paradigm Shifting), Social Media (SM Expert), Unique

Guru – “Guru for sure needs to be buried, and anyone who self-proclaims to be a guru will see their reputation get buried too.”  Julia Zunich

Five times as unpopular: Buzz (Buzzwords), Revolutionary

Buzz – “Unless you’re in the honey bee industry, buzz can be subject and acts as a filler word.” - Jolene Loetscher 

Six (at least it wasn’t seven): Leader (Leading), Solution, State-of-the-Art, Synergy (Synergize)

State-of-the-Art – “When you think about it, this doesn’t explain anything. I’d much rather be specific and state why the technology, process, etc. is heads above the rest.” - Renee Rosiak 

The big winners: Cutting Edge, Game Changing

Cutting Edge – “Here are my reasons as to why ‘cutting edge’ hits the top spot. First, it doesn’t really mean anything unless you are talking about something that makes blood when you lean on the corner of a table. Second, it’s a giant cliche and when people use cliches they are not actually talking; it’s as if they read too  many copies of Fast Company magazines and are parrotting what is in there. I always say explain everything—use English, not jargon. Finally, everything can be considered by the “talker” as being on the cutting edge— but who is to judge? The fact is, a differentiator is something that is so new, so different, that you don’t have to use crazy terms in order to get our attention.If you’re in PR or marketing and say “Here is why our product is newer and better—and really unique,” you better be able to back it up. And if you can’t, then give an brand spanking new angle for its use— cause everything does not have to be mind-blowing. It just has to be different!” Richard Laermer 

What Buzzwords were missed? List the ones that you would like to see included in the comments section.  

I think this submission sums it up best - “I understand your pain points and therefore will first open the kimono and tell you that I am an industry leader who will leverage my ten years as a communications professional to make this email as actionable as possible. I have worked in the B2B and B2C spaces and I can tell you that I have learned a lot from their turn-key and best-of-breed solutions. I do not have the bandwidth to go into a deep dive about my experiences, however, but I have done a great deal of brandstorming with my teams and I have socialized the idea of sharing my key learning’s with you. Maybe they are all just drinking the Kool-Aid, but I believe once given the full data dump, you will understand the value-add that my email provides. I can get more granular and flush out my next-generation view, but it’s my guesstimation that will just seem like vaporware to you.” Lisa Dilg 

Follow Mynt Public Relations and Ronnie Manning on Twitter and these great people who helped contribute to the post - Jim DeLorenzo, Teri Morris, Sarahjane Sacchetti, Gregg Feistman, Julia A. Glenister, Robert Sax, Jay Moyes, Glenn Gillen, Mike Trainor, Kim Rockley, Ford Kanzler, Rick Clancy, Jenny Franklin, Sandy Adam, Jolene Loetscher, Laura Crovo, Tiffany Guarnaccia, Lizzy Shaw, Sarah Parker Young, Lynn Manning Ross, Gretel Going, Gail Sideman, Eric Alper, Mark Shapiro, Marjorie R. Asturias, Dave Clarke, Jane Walsh, Molly Lynch, Brenda Christensen, Ed Hadley, Lindsey Groepper, Kimberly A. Juday, Julie Heidelberg, Mark Grimm, Jay Ferrari, Peter A. Eschbach, Jason Mudd, Scott Lorenz, Elke Martin, Johanna Erin Jacobson