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Tired, Fading and Dead PR Words in Public Relations and Communications

There are still industries where the press tour is alive and well but most reporters, editors and bloggers don’t have the time

Lots of companies – especially those in B2B – still talk about (or request) PR services that increasingly strike me as tired, fading or dead.
 
Press tours & press briefings yes, there are still industries where the press tour is alive and well (entertainment!) but most reporters, editors and bloggers don’t have time to meet in person anymore. I always felt bad for them during the height of this practice when an endless stream of PR people with clients in tow stacked-up to get their turn updating glassy-eyed reporters.
 
Hits & clips counting clips (printed editorial coverage) and putting undue weight on offline publicity to measure PR success should have died two decades ago. Ask Katie Paine, one of the leaders in communications measurement. She says “hit” stands for How Idiots Track Success.
 
Press kits, brochures & collateral – in this era of sustainability and green, it’s hard to believe companies are still printing, but some are. Remember the days when major trade show/conference press rooms would be filled with press kits? This practice has largely stopped; it’s a digital world, let’s stop killing trees.
 
Press releases – the function of the news release has shifted so dramatically that in most instances they’re written and issued to primarily serve other stakeholders (customers, investors, prospects, etc.), not the press. The term “press release” is still (marginally) more prevalent than “news release,” (139 million vs. 104 million per Google) but call ‘em by the latter. It’s a more accurate, current and legitimate term.
 
Pitch – this term bugs me more than any other tired/fading/dead PR word because it epitomizes the old-world model of one-way communications. We have two-way conversations, we listen, we seek-out opinions, we build relationships and we tell stories. We shouldn’t “pitch.”
 
Users – this term has been around in the world of tech for decades; “users” referring to people who “use” products. For bizarro reasons I could never fathom, they aren’t called customers or consumers. Time to bury this one.
 
Big bang announcements – there was a time when PR practitioners would communicate with reporters well in advance of actual news being issued. Two or three months before the news broke, corporate spokespersons would inform industry analysts and “long lead time” magazines. Then they’d pre-brief the bi-weeklies, then the weeklies, then the dailies. This is a breathless concept. Blogs break news before most offline news outlets are even aware of it. Other social media (Twitter especially) inform in true real time.
 
Publicity – I’ve never liked this word in the context of defining public relations practice. Are we trying to build trusted reputations and create belief? Or, are we simply trying to get attention (Balloon Boy!)? True public relations is not publicity.
 
Embargos & lead time – PR practitioners used to negotiate up-front agreements with reporters not to run pre-fed news stories until the official date/time of the announcement. Hardly anyone wants to be tied to this practice; it’s still around but is fading fast.
 
What PR words bug you?

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More Stories By Andy Beaupre

Andy Beaupre is a 35-year branding and communications professional. He is a senior counselor with Beaupre and heads the firm’s clean technology practice.