This post was inspired by Entrepreneur's recent article on why NOT to hire a PR firm. They did a pretty good job of covering the reasons companies panic and try to hire a public relations agency or other professional to generate some positive PR ASAP.
While I was reading the article, I started remembering all these random words that I've heard in new business meetings with these type of clients. Their lack of understanding of what PR is and what it can do is represented by the words they use. I cringe when I hear these words bandied about by people who clearly have no idea what real public relations work entails. Here are my "Top Three" words that drive me nuts and why they should be banned from both client and public relations professionals' lexicons.
- Buzz: Using the word "buzz" indicates that a client wants to create some sort of excitement in the community about an upcoming product or service. A news release is not the way to get there. True "WOM" (word of mouth) passing of knowledge occurs organically when the right channels are used.
- Spin: I truly loathe this word. It cheapens everything a public relations professionals do and all we stand for. It implies that you want me to take your dirty laundry and magically transform it into crisp white sheets on the clothes line. Truth is the best cootie spray you can get. Use liberally. Rinse, repeat. No spinning necessary.
- "Placements:" I put this one in quotes because it is such a misnomer. The word implies that a public relations professional can take your crappy story idea and magically place it into USA Today or the Wall Street journal. I would choose another analogy: Shoe leather hitting the street and knocking on 100 doors. Only three open the door, even a crack. Only one lets you give your sales pitch. That person then waits for the man of the house to get home (editor) and then MAY buy what you are selling. But probably not.