Buzzwords to Avoid in External Communications

Imagine: you and your team work tirelessly to develop a solid PR plan, chock full of creative story angles and messages. Finally, it’s media pitching time — but despite your best efforts, you can’t seem to get media interest. Why?

Journalists and editors have many reasons for passing on pitches. Many claim to receive 200-plus pitches a day, some relevant to their editorial priorities and some…not so much. However, pitching a story that is in line with a reporter’s beat does not necessarily make a good pitch.

An important factor that sets good pitches – and any external communications – apart from the bad is the inclusion of problematic buzzwords that can turn a journalist’s interest off instantly. We caught up with editor Oriana Schwindt of Variety who clued us in to a few keywords and phrases that can doom a pitch instantly.

Don’t say: platform

Why: The word “platform” is very nondescript and vague. In today’s technologically driven world, most products being pitched have a digital component of some kind. To ensure your media contacts understand the concept of the pitch, be as specific as possible with your descriptions.

Do say: App, website, cloud-based dashboard, etc.

Don’t say: content

Why: Again, content is very vague and can apply to almost anything. In a world where people refer to superficial selfies and Tweets as “content,” make sure your pitch includes more specific descriptors to classify the kinds of content to which your referring, both in terms of medium and subject matter.

Do say: Video, non-fiction text, fictional TV series, sports clips, web series, etc.

Don’t say: innovative 

Why: Avoid anything that overhypes in your pitches. Words like “innovative,” “impactful” and “game changer” are rarely applicable to the pitch and merely pad companies’ boilerplates with fluff. While journalists appreciate added color, they can see through sensationalized language.

Do say: Get right to the point of what the client/product/trend you are pitching does and why it matters.

Don’t say: maximizes monetization (and other like jargon-filled phrases)

Why: Niche jargon of any sort is hard to understand. As journalists are writing stories to their audiences, jargon must be simplified and streamlined to a more common vernacular.

Do say: Replace all jargon with the terminology you would use to describe the same client/product/trend to your grandparents. If they can understand, it’s probably safe to publish.

While these simple tweaks may seem very basic, it is important to keep in mind the power of writing like you’d speak and sounding human when it comes to hooking a reporter’s interest. Set your communications and pitches up for success with simple, descriptive and targeted language that fully communicates the importance of your story.

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