Time the buzzwords buzzed off: Why they could be stinging your business’s reputation

by Chris Fairbairn

Thursday, July 20th, 2017

Our Edinburgh PR consultants list their most tiresome phrases from the world of corporate speak

Edinburgh PR consultants look at corporate jargon

CROSS-FERTILISATION of ideas. Synergy. Stakeholder relations. Blue-sky thinking.

Somehow, when nobody was looking, these peculiar terms and thousands more have become accepted as a major part of the business vernacular.

Yet should they slip out the confines of the organisation and into your external communications, it is now proven that they have a damaging effect on your brand and how it is seen by that most crucial of ‘stakeholder’ – the general public.

As well as reviewing the evidence that suggests this use of jargon is actually harmful to businesses, the team of public relations consultants at Holyrood PR also share the business gobbledegook they find most cringeworthy. As communicators by trade, this topic stirred a great deal of debate – and we couldn’t help but compile our own list of personal picks, which we’d like to see banished to a room 101.Edinburgh PR consultants look at corporate jargon Melissa Craib

When a crisis strikes, it is as often the response that does the most damage rather than the initial incident. When United Airlines forcibly removed a passenger, the aloofness of its CEO wiped millions from its coffers

CBI Report – providing the obvious evidence

A recent report by the Confederation of British Industry has been produced, slamming business for being too distant, too shrouded in secrecy and impenetrable with the language it uses to communicate to the public.

Edinburgh PR consultants look at corporate jargon Scott DouglasIt called for a complete end to corporate jargon, something that we wholly support.

The idea of ‘remoteness’ was used throughout – as by either undervaluing communications or by speaking in these terms, firms are putting a distinct and obvious barrier between themselves and the public, and even its own employees.

Edinburgh PR consultants look at corporate jargon Cat TimoneyFindings also showed that the closer an individual is to a firm, the more likely it is to view it positively. For instance, if a family member worked for a business that individual is more likely to view it in a positive light.

Speaking about the report and what businesses should be doing to turn the situation around, the CBI President, Paul Drechsler had this to say:

Edinburgh PR consultants look at corporate jargon Stuart Milne“To tackle this (remoteness), businesses need to improve the way that they interact with employees and customers, to show that they are more than faceless machines motivated by profit.

“This must be a concerted effort – the best businesses know that actions speak louder than words. I’m calling on more business leaders to get out there and talk about what matters to people, junk the jargon and think creatively about ways to improve its interactions with employees and customers.

Edinburgh PR consultants look at corporate jargon Alex Bowles“Shifting perceptions won’t be easy – but it’s in the best interests of all for businesses to do so and I believe that Britain’s firms are up to the job.”

Our own conclusion is that this is so incredibly obvious. In a more personal comparison, when you meet somebody, you are far more likely to respond warmly to them if they are open, friendly – and speak in a language that you understand and choose words you relate with.

Corporate communications should be no different.

Edinburgh PR consultants look at corporate jargon Craig Sinclair

































A photo of Asimo the robot, by Holyrood PR in Scotland, a public relations agencyHow do you tame a rapidly advancing robot? Account Manager Chris Fairbairn makes the case for choosing words as your weapon – and looks at a positive recent example of a major employer engaging from the outset

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Chris Fairbairn of Scottish public relations agency, Holyrood PR in Edinburgh

Chris Fairbairn

Chris Fairbairn is an Account Director with award-winning public relations agency Holyrood PR. He is part of an expert PR team delivering PR services to a wide range of clients from headquarters in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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