Making sense of PR speak

Recently the below graphic has been doing the rounds in media and PR circles, re-stoking some debate about PR jargon.

Reaching outWhether you are working in PR in-house or agency side, you often can’t avoid falling into the jargon trap from time-to-time – that’s not to say it is right!  So with that in mind here are five of the worst pieces of PR speak with some suggestions on how to avoid it:

Leverage – a particular press release favourite, but what is wrong with uses or utilises?

Touch base – reaching out’s partner in crime and it shouldn’t be used unless media relations involves a game of baseball or rounders. Typically you ‘speak to’ or ‘get in contact’ rather than ‘touch base’ with friends and family; with journalists it shouldn’t be any different. (See also ‘circle back’)

Blue sky thinking – considering the lack of ‘blue skies’ in recent UK summers, ‘grey sky’ thinking may be more appropriate, but when we cut to the chase what we are really talking about is alternative or creative ideas. So why not just say that?

Innovative – Dom did a post on the PR usage of ‘innovation’ a while ago, but the fact remains it is an overused word in PR. Unless something really is ground-breaking (yes you could argue that is PR jargon too!) ‘innovative’ should be used sparingly.

Solutions – again a bit of a B2B tech favourite.  I remember doing some media training a while back, and the journalist running the session expressed his dislike of ‘solutions’ saying that companies offered ‘products’ and ‘services’, not solutions. To be fair, he makes a good point.  So while ‘solutions’ usage is sometimes unavoidable, it is worth asking yourself if you can use a better alternative.

Keeping things simple and to the point can go a long way in PR. In fact, too many instances of PR speak can often tarnish a good story or idea. So do leverage that advice when touching base with a client or journalist next time 🙂

Feel free to add any other suggestions to the comments section below.

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  1. […] your language – as Alex recently blogged, PR ‘speak’ can be littered with phrases that turn journalists off and actually add nothing to your content. […]

  2. […] year, Alex wrote about the abundance of jargon that seems to find its way into considerable amounts of PR copy – with […]

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