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September 16, 2008

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» SAY IT SIMPLY from Professionally Speaking....
Weasel words -- aka gobbledygook, jargon, buzzwords, corporate-speak, doube-talk -- are everywhere. Listen carefully the next time you're at a presentation and you'll hear that we are going to cascade down information to staff concerning the headcount ... [Read More]

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Paul Roetzer

Good stuff, David. The real challenge for PR pros is to resist giving into the clients who insist on using these worthless phrases to make themselves as generic as the next guy.

David Meerman Scott

Paul, you're absolutely right. It is indeed a challenge, however a very important one to educate clients about. Thanks.

Craig

Great post. I couldn't even get through the first paragraph it was so boring and contained too much jargon. I was curious for a company's website who wants to gain SEO benefits. You may need some jargon terms but of course don't want to turn anyone off.

Craig
www.budgetpulse.com

Leo Wurschmidt

I think avoiding the gobbledygook is one of the most difficult things to do in preparing marketing materials. I currently have to go through my entire website and write user-centered, jargon-less content. The funny thing is that even with your advice in mind, I still have a tendency to use the buzzwords in my text.

John P. Kreiss

David, thanks for sharing these great examples. I have to admit that I'm guilty myself of sometimes using overused phrases like best practices and next gerneration.

We don't use them in conversation. Why should we be using them when writing?

John P. Kreiss
MorganSullivan.com
www.johnpkreiss.com

Dale Wolf

David,

Thanks for all of us for continuing the fight against useless and confusing business communications -- whether in websites, emails or news releases, marketers seem hell-bent on talking so that their mothers would not even recognize what business their kids were in.

My rule of thumb -- no jargon, simple direct sentences. Get to the point fast and clearly. Help the customer to know exactly what it is you offer and why your value is unique and useful. Is that so hard?

David Meerman Scott

Thanks Dale.

While there are exceptions, I do think that my mother should understand every company's marketing materials and press releases...

Jay Vaidya

Hi David,

I've been reading your book "The New Rules of Marketing and PR" and came across your discussion of corporate speak and gobbley gook; the topic really hit home and I couldn't agree more. Over-used corporate language has changed once powerful words and phrases in to more noise.

However, how can those new to the workforce convince stubborn upper management (or anyone in favor of gobbley gook language) of the detriments of using such language? People tend to be resistant to change, especially regarding sensitive subjects like the language used to communicate with audiences.

David Meerman Scott

Jay, your potential customers don't talk that way. You might as well be speaking Greek or Russian. You just aren't communicating. David

Susie

David, I just got your book from a colleague and had to find your site! I love this post, I was new to blogging and thrown into about 2 years ago. I have found so many resources out there, but still continue to struggle with what you call gobbletygook - I am looking forward to reading more on your blog and the books that you have suggested above.

There is nothing more maddening than shaking your head and saying, what did I just read?

David Meerman Scott

Cool. Thanks for stopping by. Hope you like the book. David

Barbara Lindner Coates

Hi David,

In my former life as a TV News videographer (journalist/editor/camera operator...) I was the recipient of countless mind-boggling news releases that made absolutely no sense whatsoever. Now as a media relations consultant, I find myself battling my clients in insisting on plain, and, what a concept, ENTERTAINING language when filing news releases. Local newspapers are written at the Grade 6 level. The national ones are slightly more high-brow - aiming at the literacy level of a grade 11 scholar. The folks reading the newspapers are the same ones reading your marketing materials, vision statements, etc. Plain English, short sentences, get to the point, maybe even just scan-able bullet lists would hit the mark.
For those interested in a brief & entertaining weekly newsletter with tips on how to "punch up your prose"
check out Daphne Gray-Grant's Power Writing suggestions at www.publicationcoach.com

The latest issue on avoiding cliches was hilarious.

Steve Kayser

Now you did it. I had to buy the Death Sentences book. I recall my first corporate gobbledygook news release. I inherited an "About" Boilerplate - that was, I think, conservatively estimating, about 4,355 words. I've gotten it down to 24 and would eliminate it if I could - but it's a good way to intrigue readers into your site.

WE COME A LONG WAY IN OUR FIGHT AGAINST GOBBLEDYGOOK

WORLD'S SHORTEST NEWS RELEASE:http://bit.ly/4gLzBK

8 word title
0 word body text (has image however with a 16 word message)
24 word boilerplate

Don't count the related links - because I don't count them in social media news releases - HAHAHAH

Hey! Hear your making trouble in Vegas - You and Your New Rules of Pr & Marketing - always being disruptive!

Michael Procopio

I found this quote on a blog I thought you would enjoy.

"Most hard core networking geeks out there today avoid buzzwords like I avoid health food, sushi and light beer. "

B. Liz

David,

I just found WEBINKNOW while checking inbound links to my web site. What a bummer ... such a negative inbound link!

From the zillions of web sites on the Internet, how did you find The Blizzrd Group? I Googled weasel words, gobbledygook, jargon, buzzwords, babble, blather and baloney (each word separately); The Blizzrd Group didn't rank ... LOL!

BTW, since your reference to The Blizzrd Group home page, several adjustments were made (prior to reading your comments) and a redesign is under way. I'll be sure to return the favor and add a link to WEBINKNOW on the new site. Thanks for the critique.

David Meerman Scott

@B. Liz - the post was from September 2008...

Somebody sent me the link as an example of over-use of gobbledygook. I read the homepage and agreed so I published a link to your site.

Let me know if you make the language on the site easier to understand.

Best, David

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