Ideas fresh off the wire

The Bleeding Edge: Highwire’s Disruptive Buzzword Hacks

Hi Mike,

I wanted to connect with you on a game-changing big data company that is disrupting the stack. Led by a team of visionary entrepreneurs, they have been killing it with over two consecutive quarters of double-digit growth, and are ready to shake up the global SaaS market.

Millennials, for better or worse, have catalyzed a paradigm shift in how we work, leveraging revolutionary tech to consumerize workflows and move the needle on mission-critical tasks. As the tech giants battle to control untapped markets, and VCs chase the next unicorn, we are doubling down on scaling cloud-based solutions that will enable the internet of things, connected homes, self driving cars, and beyond.

Our founders’ mission is to be the Uber for making the world a better place, and I’d love to connect you with one of their thought leaders for a discussion on the emerging future of this hot start-up.

Let me know if you have a few minutes to chat.

We can all agree that those three paragraphs are absolute nonsense, right? OK good, now let’s talk about why I just assaulted your thinkspace with that fluff.

Every industry has its own jargon. PR can catch flack for perpetuating buzzwords that may have little substance, and at times that’s a valid critique. As a young professional I quickly learned how easy it was to pepper my copy with whatever vague, buzzy phrase was in vogue at the time. Most often, I did so with the hope that it would make me sound as though I knew what I was talking about, while the result was actually a lame, robotic correspondence.

That’s not to say all popular ideas are inherently bad. At times buzzwords are an effective way to simplify and communicate a complex idea. I could tell you that my company ‘reduces wasted resources by enabling virtual instances to share a single host operating system and relevant binaries, libraries or drivers.’ Or I could simply say it ‘uses containerization to maximize resources.’ Not sure which word to use? There’s a dictionary for that.

New ideas grow to become trends, trends gain popularity and soon become clichés, which die out, only to emerge again with a new spin. It’s understandable that PR would be closely tied to this – it’s our job to talk about what’s going on in a given industry.

Just don’t get carried away. You don’t want to sound like a character in an episode of Silicon Valley. Direct, honest conversation is a key to success in internal, client-facing, or media relations. Keep that in mind next time you start talking “leveraging synergy” with a straight face. And, if gamification helps you stay honest, try playing Buzzword Bingo the next time you write or sit through a meeting.