The Drum Awards Festival - Official Deadline

-d -h -min -sec

Buzzwords Jargon

In defence of PR bullshit


By Stephen Lepitak, -

February 9, 2016 | 3 min read

I've always felt bad for anyone working in comms making cold calls to pitch a 'story' they know no one wants to run and no journalist will be overly nice when answering the phone to something that both ends of the line know is a waste of time.

I hope that the guys at The Drum are as polite as I know them to be generally when this happens. And it does. Often.

I chuckled reading the list of top 10 PR jargon terms released by Houston PR, which collected familiar phrases that journalists cited as pet hates such as "reach out" and "growth hacking". However it reminds me that while communications has created a layer between a subject and journalist that can be irritating at times, these guys are often under orders from clients to use certain phrases and terms.

I don't know if I would be good in the PR world, but I know lots of comms professionals who I rate highly and I socialise with. They aren't the type of people who regularly use most of the terms on the list (what does onboarding actually mean?) but if they have to use this language to explain what their client does within a pitch, then use it they will.

PR is an element of marketing that we all know is full of bullshit buzzwords, and I give a shout out to Ben Titchmarsh over at Propeller PR for his sensational Bullshit Bingo game on our Advertising Week bus last year for highlighting the same issue. Sometimes in life you have to say things that sound insane because that's the business we operate within.

I love people using bullshit terms. It reaffirms that I do have a grip on this industry and that while it is always talking about innovation, in many ways the people who work within it don't really change. Stereotypes are reaffirmed whether it is knowingly or not in marketing. Just look around Shoreditch agencies to see that.

So while the journalists involved in compiling this list probably haven't done so in malice, they are likely to have felt a little superior while doing so. I'd just like to remind them that one day, potentially in the not too distant future, they may earn their crust on the other side of the coin spouting similar language under contract for a bit more cash in their pockets each month.

So people of the comms world, feel free to 'circle back' to them when you find that to be the case.

Stephen Lepitak is editor of The Drum. He tweets @stephenlepitak

Buzzwords Jargon

More from Buzzwords

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +