Adeela Warley: Choose your buzz words wisely

Be clear what you mean and don't sound like a character from W1A, writes the CharityComms chief

Adeela Warley
Adeela Warley

Wordsmiths at York University have announced 30 archaic words that are ripe for revival in our buzz word-laden times.

Every profession has its lexicon. The current favourites in marketing and communications circles include "supporter experience", "digital disruption" and "audience-centric brands". I use them daily.

I don’t want to be a "momist" (always finding fault) but it can be "ear-renting" (the personal cost of listening to trivial or incessant talk) when buzz words abound and almost lose their meaning and purpose.

At a Dragons' Den-style panel run by Parkinson’s UK, I saw great campaign ideas being pitched. The charity wants to reach and collaborate with many more people to create a bold and confident voice, using powerful words and images to debunk myths and transform perceptions of the condition.

Some of the best ideas came from plain-speaking volunteers, friends and staff of the charity who had been invited to send in ideas for attracting and engaging new audiences. There was no "ruff" (swaggering, blustering, boastful) stuff in sight.

Ideas from some people living with Parkinson’s were shortlisted and I was "awhaped" (amazed) with how their daily experiences shot through their campaign ideas and by the charity’s inclusive and collaborative approach to putting real meaning into the words and messages it uses.

It was an "audience-centric engagement", if you like, but it boils down to wanting to deliver ideas clearly, authentically and honestly.

Before reaching for buzz words, let’s be clear what we mean and confident in how to put them into action. This can keep us honest and focused on delivering positive impacts for our beneficiaries and avoid us sounding like the cast of W1A, the BBC’s merciless parody of the corporate communications world that makes me "Merry-go-sorry" (a mix of joy and sorrow).

Adeela Warley is chief executive of CharityComms. Reference University of York, Lost Words research

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