November 28, 2022

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Business Update Blog

Catch Us If You Can

Ok, you guys*, get your scorecards ready.

You might have read our list of the most despised industry jargon, buzzwords, and clichés a couple of months ago. Once that article went live, some of its contributors confessed to using words other contributors revile. (Check out the comments on this LinkedIn post for proof.)

Since the list entries came from Content Marketing World 2022 speakers, I couldn’t help but wonder: Would any of those hated terms echo through the keynote hall or session rooms during the event?

That’s where the scorecards come in.

While you’re in Cleveland this week, participating online next week, or following the #CMWorld hashtag on social, keep an ear out. Note how many times you see or hear each expression from the abridged list below.

Then, let us know in the comments. Don’t name names, please – nobody’s perfect. And, after all, one person’s ‘engagement’ is another person’s ‘North Star.’

Note: This week, we’re giving everyone a taste of Content Marketing World 2022 by featuring recaps of articles filled with insights from this year’s speakers.

Activation

I wish “activation” would die and never come back. Who talks like this? Other than businesspeople who never talked to their customers about their needs. Do customers say, “If only this were activated …”? Nope.”

Kathy Klotz-Guest, founder, Keeping it Human

I wish activation would die and never come back. Who talks like this? Do customers say, If only this were activated? Nope, says #CMWorld speaker @kathyklotzguest via @CMIContent.

Can you make this go viral?

This tells me that a client doesn’t understand how public relations/content marketing work. Going viral became a thing back in the 2000s. Quora says the term to “describe rapid and widespread social proliferation of a meme or product” started picking up steam in 2008. I imagine it’s been causing marketing folks headaches ever since.

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Clients need to understand that the only way to ensure you’ll be featured is to pay for an ad. Public relations and content marketing take time and dedicated effort. Very little success is had overnight.”

Michelle Garrett, consultant, Garrett Public Relations

Going viral became a thing in the 2000s. PR and #ContentMarketing take time and dedicated effort. Very little success is had overnight, says @PRisUs via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Check out

The phrase “check out …” is the most vapid, lazy call to action ever invented. Stop it. Verbs are your friends, people.

Think about it: When’s the last time you ever checked out anything anyone ever told you to check out? Never? Exactly. Because it’s such an empty, valueless call to action, “check out” undercuts your authority and suggests “spam city.”

What will happen should I click whatever it is you want me to “check out?” Tell me. Give me a good reason to click that sucker. Make me trust you.

Kate Bradley Chernis, co-founder and CEO, Lately

Check out is the most vapid, lazy call to action ever invented, says #CMWorld speaker @LatelyAIKately via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Engagement

I shiver anytime a marketer talks about engagement. What exactly is engagement? Ask 20 marketers what they think it means, and you’ll get 20 different answers. So, next time you catch yourself about to utter the word “engagement,” stop. Ask yourself, what exactly do you mean?

Andrew Davis, author and keynote speaker, Monumental Shift

Next time you catch yourself about to utter the word engagement, stop. Ask yourself, what exactly do you mean? #CMWorld speaker @DrewDavisHere via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

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Gendered language

We all need to think about our audiences and make everyone feel included and respected. Stop saying “you guys” in meetings. Replace “man-hours” with “people-hours.” Think about industry-specific terms that may isolate people and aim to be more inclusive. Speak up to help others, and shift toward kinder, more culturally appropriate language.

Penny Gralewski, senior director, product and portfolio marketing, DataRobot

Stop saying you guys in meetings. Shift toward kinder, more culturally appropriate language, says @virtualpenny via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

It is what it is

It is an awful saying, which I am trying not to use anymore. It normalizes a status quo that is immovable and defeatist. I believe anything can change, and as content marketers, we know the power and impact of words, imagery, and video to make what it is, everything it can be.

Karen McFarlane, chief marketing officer, LetterShop

Learnings

Learnings is on my personal list because it sounds like something a toddler would say. Plus, we already have two perfectly good words that express the same meaning: lessons and takeaways.

Domain-specific jargon can be useful as shorthand when you’re communicating with other people in your field (e.g., SERP, click-throughs, bounce rate). But general business jargon is unnecessary – and exclusionary. People who don’t speak English natively often struggle with “corporate speak,” which should give all of us pause as our customers and teammates are becoming more globally diverse every day.

Sarah Goff-Dupont, principal writer, Atlassian

Learnings sounds like something a toddler would say. Plus, we already have good words for the same meaning: lessons and takeaways, says @SarahGoffDupont via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

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North Star

It might not seem contentious, but to an audience based in the Southern Hemisphere having a North Star as your guiding or underlying principle is confusing, illogical, and just plain wrong. We have the Southern Cross, but we don’t use that as a guiding light. Why not just use the terms “guiding principle” or “core message” instead?

Gina Balarin, director and content queen, Verballistics

Perfect

This word is overused. Perfection is a myth. Stop calling everything “perfect.”

Bernie Borges, vice president global content marketing, iQor

Phygital

Making events virtual (digital) as well as in-person (physical) makes them more accessible and means that more diverse voices will be heard. But I cannot stand the word “phygital.” It is the worst portmanteau of all time, and I shudder every time I hear it.

Jacqueline Baxter, senior digital strategist, DX, Sitecore

I cannot stand the word phygital. It is the worst portmanteau of all time, and I shudder every time I hear it, says @JaxBaxter via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

How did we do?

Did you hear one of these terms or see it in a quote or clip on social? Are there any you’d add to the list? Chime in below.

* Did you notice my use of gendered language? That’s a big no-no, as Penny Gralewski rightly pointed out. How many other items from the list did you spot in the intro?

It’s not too late to learn from all these Content Marketing World speakers. Register today for the online event September 21 – 22 and use promo code BLOG100 to save $100.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute