Is your client ‘world leading’? – 10 other words/phrases brands should avoid

There used to a blog called World Leading that poked fun at the PR industry.  Its title was of course a reminder of how stupid it is to make false statements about a client’s products or business.  Yet a quick scan of the latest press releases shows that all too many companies think they are the world’s leading something or other.  In the era of social media such statements seem silly and counter productive.  Customers can easily find out if a product or company is a world leader, or if it is in fact a laggard.  Yet, as I say, companies still do it.  Here’s a recent example by Ford: “Ford Motor Company, the police vehicle market leader for 15 years, has done it again.”  Sadly companies use all sorts of other rubbish in their materials.  Here are some words and expressions large companies have in their materials right now, that I would love to see them eliminate:

  1. Synergy – I don’t need to explain why this word should not be used do I?
  2. Platform – this is rapidly becomming an overused term in technology with just about every company creating a platform for other technologies
  3. Open – again this is a word that is over used by technology companies and is often untrue in its application
  4. “Enduring commitment” – phrases like these makes my blood boil.  Either you are committed or you are not.  The ‘Enduring’ part simply makes no sense.
  5. Convergence – there just has to be a better word or phrase.
  6. “Integrated applications” – the use of phrases that sound intelligent but tell you nothing about what is actually going on, drives me nuts.
  7. “Go to market” – marketing speak… do real people use such expressions?
  8. “all new” – this implies that the other versions you announced weren’t really new at all.
  9. “active dialog” – I think I know what they meant to say… sadly they didn’t
  10. Revolutionary – really?  The product really is revolutionary?  Would customers call it revolutionary?  I doubt it.

Now I genuinely took these words and expressions from press releases issued by large companies in the last 30 days.  These are brands you would definitely have heard of.  Despite their prominence they still feel it necessary to use language that is at best confusing and at worst obvious exaggeration.  PR PROs, please do your part to make materials an honest and sensible reflection of the brands you represent.  Blatant over statement stands out like a sore thumb and makes us all look stupid.


5 Comments on “Is your client ‘world leading’? – 10 other words/phrases brands should avoid”

  1. Nice post Tim. I’m thinking SEO might be the answer to this tragic abuse of the English language. Perhaps simply demonstrating that no-one ever powers up Google looking for a “reliable, scalable, open, end-to-end solutions” will encourage more people to use real language in their communications.

    This, of course, assumes that these sorts of missives are designed to actually be found, read and acted upon. I fear they are largely created to keep line of product managers happy and box-checking PR folks employed.

  2. olivera markovic says:

    We have created it and the challenege is to reinvent, constantly! Good to hear from you Tim.

  3. Stuart Smith says:

    Alive and well and can be found here for the PR historians

    Perhaps we can coax the author out from semi-retirement. Some entries definitely deserve an epilogue

  4. Marc Hausman says:

    The buzzword debate continues…good to see you weigh in, Tim.

    I work extensively in technology and there are certain words or phrases that carry meaning to decision-makers (i.e. platform, integrated, enterprise, etc.).

    Yes…they are overused. However, they are descriptive and, as a result, appropriate to use.

    Of course, there are examples of business speak that are just plain silly. You ID’d a good one in “go to market.” I’m also a big fan of “at the end of the day.”

  5. […] the end of each year comes a raft of blog posts and forum discussions railing against jargon that’s been over used to the nth degree, and now borders upon ridiculous.   […]

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