A Columnist’s New Year Plea

Now that 2000 has arrived — and we are all still in one piece — I would like to suggest several New Year’s resolutions for all startup and established e-commerce companies: Dispense with the fluff, jargon and cliches.

If these companies adopt my proposal, it would get their messages to the public efficiently and clearly, and make it easier for people in my line of work to translate corporate news into understandable language.

Cut The Hype

It is always difficult for a journalist to cut through the fluff, but when 90 percent of the companies out there trumpet themselves as “the first,” “the leading,” “the only,” or “the premier global,” it makes it tough to take the rest of their news release seriously.

Additionally, when a company announces some new development, product or technique, it would help tremendously if the public relations department would refrain from using such stale adjectives as “innovative,” “ground-breaking,” “leading edge,” “next-generation,” or “robust” to describe it.

More Original CEO Quotes

While every journalist loves to bring copy alive with lively, well-placed quotes from movers and shakers, many of the statements that trip from the mouths of CEOs are just plain dull or hopelessly predictable.

If one more CEO says that he or she is “totally pleased,” “gratified,” or “extremely excited” about some merger or new deal, I think I will break my keyboard in two over my knee.

Cut Cliches And Jargon

I would also encourage all corporate flacks to seriously consider purging their company’s press releases of all cliches and jargon.

I wish I had a dollar for every time I have seen “end-to-end,” “24×7,”or “back-office” sprinkled into a sentence along with undefined acronyms such as OFX compliance, Visual HDL or SPARC processor.

Not Everyone Is An Engineer

While much of my critique is meant to be tongue in cheek, I think that many CEOs of high-tech companies lose sight of the fact that the vast majority of people — their customers – are not engineers. Therefore, it would make good business sense to adopt my suggestions.

However, there is a certain benefit to the fluff, jargon and cliches. Certainly no CEO is going to anger his stockholders by issuing a non-descript statement.

In addition, if a company really does not have anything new to offer, the fluff and jargon can often convince the uninitiated observer that big news has just been broken.

Nonetheless, if more companies decided to cut the fluff and jargon this year, it might mean that more customers would really understand the significance of what they are doing.

What do you think? Let’s talk about it.

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