I had the pleasure of contributing some informal research to David Meerman Scott’s book The New Rules of PR and Marketing back in 2007. Since then, it has become a business-book bestseller, and now a revised and updated 2nd edition is being sold on-line and by major book retailers such as Borders. Some colleges are using it as a textbook – it is a comprehensive overview of the tactics available to reach buyers directly with useful information as opposed to hype.
My research, summarized in Chapter 12 (see pages 156-157), has to do with over-used words and phrases that have lost any meaning; clichés that are spewed daily in news releases and other content in the BtoB world. I surveyed publication editors to gage their complaints.
I have talked plenty about the ubiquitous word “solutions” (see “Guess What, We Make Products”). There’s plenty of new lists and sources, including Seth Godin’s amusing Encylopedia of Business Cliches on Squidoo, where you can vote for your favorites. “Synergy” and “paradigm shift” are both in the top 10.
The indictment of business cliches has moved from deeming the practice of using them as mere laziness of the writer, to slamming it as intentional subterfuge. I think it’s a mixture. Another factor is ignorance of the news-release writer due to lack of experience within the industry discussed.
My suggestion for freshening up your business vocabulary: read Business Week, Wired, Discover, Scientific American or other technology-trends publications. Borrow an appropriate term, give it a new context, and make it your own.