Whitney Danhauer

The Spin Sucks Question: Which Communications Buzzwords Bug You?

By: Whitney Danhauer | February 15, 2019 | 
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communications buzzwordsThis isn’t the first time we’ve discussed the topic of communications buzzwords.

Our community has had opinions about them for a while, so we decided why not revisit the question and see if anything has changed.

And, because it’s the week of Valentine’s Day and we thought people might be tired of hearing about all the things they love, we decided to go with some things we hate instead.

Therefore, the Spin Sucks Question this week is:

Which communications buzzwords do you hate the most and why?

Every industry has buzzwords, but in the communications world, it sometimes feels like we’re overrun by them.

The one I hate the most?Bandwidth.

What do you mean you don’t have the bandwidth?

Are you an android and didn’t tell me?

Who do I need to speak with to increase your bandwidth?

Are you with Windstream? Comcast? Tell me, so I can cancel my service to this conversation, right now.

See what I mean? It may have been cute or funny if someone said it once or twice, but it’s grown into a monster.

Fortunately, I’m not alone in my dislike for buzzwords.

Here are some of the top answers we received this week.

Hated Buzzwords: Influencer

Influencer is the number one most hated communications buzzword of the poll by a mile.

In fact, it gets first place in this imaginary competition I’m having in my head.

Allisa Lindo was one who wishes the buzzword “influencer” would go the way of the dinosaur.

I have a list about a kilometer long but at the top is “influencer.” It’s really a professional pet peeve because I previously worked at an influencer marketing agency. While there, it was hard to ignore how overused and misunderstood both the term and associated marketing strategy are. 

Not everyone who calls themselves an influencer is *actually* influential and not every influencer is a good fit for a brand…insert something about a square peg in a round hole here.

Another vote for influencer came from Andrew Clark.

The buzzword “influencer” drives me up a wall! This is because it’s often used by people who have no understanding of what makes someone actually influential among a target audience and is overly subjective. In my experience, I’ve seen people use the term in regards to someone with high vanity metrics (large followership, lots of posts); they forget to look into engagement levels—something more indicative of how much influence someone really has online. Also, and perhaps this is too old school of thinking, but an influencer doesn’t just have to be someone with a fancy social media presence; more often, real influencers are highly respected in offline spaces and shouldn’t be missed.

Hated Buzzwords: Press Release

Christopher S. Penn on the other hand just wants everyone to understand what “press release” really is.

It’s not a buzzword per se, but I find the entirety of the press release to be an outdated relic that, save for meeting SEC Reg FD, should probably go away. The fact that it’s a template easily downloaded and handed out like candy to the most junior staff at agencies indicates that its value is basically zero.

Our own Gini Dietrich would agree, but for a different reason.

I don’t necessarily think the release needs to go away. It does still serve a purpose. But can we please stop calling it a press release? Newspapers and magazines are no longer printed on presses. It’s a NEWS release, unless you want people to think you’re 100+ years old.

Hated Buzzwords: Thought Leader

We had a couple of votes for the term “thought leader” and I thought Jon Goldberg said it best.

My personal peeve is “thought leader.” It seems as though everyone who has a thought and an internet connection these days is claiming to be one (or their agency has breathlessly anointed them as such). Writing bylined articles and speaking at conferences is merely sharing thoughts. A true thought leader defines critical issues, sets the agenda, encourages and leads collaborative dialogue, and marshals constructive action for change. In other words leads, not just thinks.

Kind of like the aforementioned influencer.

Hated Buzzwords: Next Level

Chris Williams wants everyone to settle down and accept their current level.

Next level. Not strictly a communications buzzword, but a buzzword it is. It’s a completely empty term! Next level of what, competence? Technical advancement (that’s called a ‘version’)? No, it’s just a feel-good phrase to throw out when you want to sound impressive. Sorry, it doesn’t work anymore (if it ever did).

Hated Buzzwords: Hacks

The word “hacks” made my list, and it’s good to know I’m not alone.

Joe Czarniecki agrees.

Recently the buzzword “hacks” has become one of my most hated. This is because, in the field of digital marketing, we see many blog posts and content pieces with headings and titles such as, “The Best Marketing Hacks of 2019” or “Top 10 SEO Hacks You’re Missing Out On!”.

These annoy me because most of them aren’t hacks and the word has been taken out of context to mean “tactics” or “strategies.”

All the Buzzwords

Then there were the few of you who had a little fun with the questions.

Mary Barber’s response was of my favorites.

Oh. Where to start as there are so very many of them. But I’d like to engage a thought leader in writing about industry-leading topics that will engage and elevate the customer base in a cutting edge manner. Then we can all circle back and leverage the topics in other outside the box and scalable ways to amplify them in the news cycle.

It didn’t stop there.

Heather Feimster chimed in with a reply to Mary.

I’m not sure I have the bandwidth right now, but I’ll try to optimize my work-life balance to leverage better productivity.

I love being in the company of other people who are as sarcastic as me.

Buzzwords Are Here to Stay

Buzzwords aren’t going anywhere.

We’re in communications.

There will always be words that take off and eventually not hold the meaning they once did.

While we may hate them with a passion, it’s good to know we can at least sit back and have a chuckle watching their trajectory, knowing everything that goes up…

Let’s just make a promise never to be the person overusing a buzzword.

How about that?

There were too many examples for me to cover in one article, but you can leave any other buzzwords you hate in the comments section.

If you’d rather take this conversation to the Spin Sucks community, we’re over there as well!

We love to hear what everyone has to say…even Mary and Heather.

About Whitney Danhauer


Whitney is living in Central Kentucky with her husband, Michael and her daughter, Evie Rose. She's an avid reader, an even more avid movie watcher, and loves nothing more than a well-placed pop culture reference. By day she writes about all things communications for Spin Sucks, by night she writes about whatever she wants. Her first novel, Good Riddance, was released in October of 2015.