In PR, we are either writing materials for our clients or creating proposals to win new business.  In both cases, just like many other industries or professions, we end up relying on certain words or jargon that we are fond of but that just really have no reason to be.  So, for my “Five for Friday”, here are the five words that just drive me crraaazy! (and that’s not a word) :

Stakeholders: Who came up with this?  Everyone throws it around to talk about the audiences they are targeting.  Apparently, according to Wikipedia, the term was coined in 1963 internal memorandum at the Stanford Research Institute. It defined stakeholders as “those groups without whose support the organization would cease to exist.”  Couldn’t we just say “target audiences”? 

Incentivize: I love this definition by the “Urban Dictionary”.  I think this says it all: “A corporate-jargon non-word meaning “motivate,” coined in 1968. Some 10 years later, it was shortened to the equally annoying verb “incent.” Unfortunately, both are recognized by both Merriam-Webster and the OED. “

Leverage: Here’s another noun that has become a verb.  What does it really mean when we say we want to “leverage” something?  Does it clarify what we are saying or rather obfuscate?  I think the latter.  Although it should be noted that the Webster Dictionary does recognize leverage as a verb.

Deliverables: Yes.  Another one of those words that manages to find its way into every proposal and I confess I am as guilty of this as any of my PR colleagues.  Meaning:  Anything that has to be done and produced for the client.  Like nails on a chalkboard?  A necessary evil?  Hard not to use it but…

Line in the Sand: The phrase is attributed to many authors but in America, according to Wikipedia, it’s most often associated with Colonel William Travis, commander of the Alamo defense forces.  It’s always bothered me that its meaning defies logic.  How can you really have a “bright red line” on an issue when drawing a line in the sand is a temporary event.  Within 12 hours, that line in the sand is gone with the tide.