Prior to setting up Houston PR I was director of media relations for Dixons Retail, owner of Currys, Dixons and PC World.
Like all big businesses it had its fair share of egos. One of my most difficult tasks, oddly, was something that ought to have been simple: the wording of external and internal announcements.
Phraseology is something that we all feel proprietorial about. We hate it when people mess with our words (I struggle, for instance, to accept input on my mailings).
At Dixons it was the same. I’d have something drafted by my team, provide my input, and then send it to people involved internally for their approval. In some cases, it would come back unchanged (kerching); in others, it would come back as a sea of red.
As PR and media relations professionals we weigh our choices of phrase carefully. We feel understandably strongly about the way that things are expressed.
So, how do we avoid the difficult politics of correction? After all, nobody likes having to persuade their CEO that his or her pet phrase is the verbal equivalent of inviting a custard pie in the face.
Here’s a suggestion:
Our site, prbuzzsaw.com, automatically draws a line through words and phrases that hundreds of leading journalists tell us that they don’t like. You simply paste a draft announcement into the box, press the button and it comes back edited.
There are thousands of words and phrases in the database that powers the site. We get new submissions every day.
Prbuzzsaw.com is an independent editorial voice. If your work comes back from executives laden with clichés, buzzwords and bloated phrases, why not sit down with the executive in question and run your announcement through the Buzzsaw?
Suddenly the back and forth – and difficult politics – are sidelined – and the critique is supplied by a database based on independent expert opinion.
Next time you’re looking to strip toe-curling terms like repurposing, solution, robust, best of breed, mission-critical, next-generation, web-enabled, leading, value-added, leverage, seamless and others from a draft announcement, give the Buzzsaw a go.