“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of coloured glass that have been in use through all the ages.”
by Darren Caveney
Whenever we post anything connected to office jargon and business buzzwords we always get a big response. It's good fun, doesn't offend and does capture a slice of office lives across our lands.
But I've been slowly coming to a conclusion for some time now and that is this: Our own industry is becoming increasingly guilty of its own new versions of jargon and buzzwords. And I believe it's incumbent on us to kick many of them into touch whenever we get the opportunity in discussions, meetings and projects.
Here are some examples…
I'm unsure of the exact moment that fake news became a thing. Social media seems to be blamed for most of the fake news doing the rounds. Now of course there are myths and incorrect information shared on social media. Lots of it, in fact. But that’s true of many, many face to face conversations too.
Fake news has been around ever since I got involved in communications (over 20 years ago) Local newspapers I dealt with regularly printed fake news. You’ll have seen it too. Granted, it was generally not earth-shattering stuff. We would challenge an incorrect page lead and sometimes, if we were lucky, we later got a tiny retraction on page 39.
Some of the tabloids have been doing this for decades and at a much more significant level. Fake news in certain national print titles - I'll not name them, you know who they are - has been a thing for a long, long time.
Social media didn't cause fake news, it just gives us an extra lens to see it first-hand whenever we flick through our social timelines.
Fake news? It isn't new.
Now we have ‘alternative facts. Wow, come again?
Alternative facts are at best a genuine error with a fact or piece of data. Getting the wrong end of the stick. We've all done that.
At worst alternative facts are lies. And lies have been around *probably* since man first walked the earth.
Alternative facts are nonsense and have no place in our vocabulary so let’s hope the phrase dies a quick death.
Now I loathe those clickbait headlines on social media which aim to draw you to a site or publication as much as the next man or woman.
You know the kind of thing – ‘Birmingham’s 10 most dangerous streets – do you live on or near one?’
I stopped clicking on them a while back.
But it isn't a new concept to encourage consumers to look at a piece of content (with sales, on some level at its core). The great ad men of New York’s Madison Avenue of the 50s and 60s lured us in with a pre-digital version of clickbait with their smart headlines which sold consumers exciting new products.
Newspapers and magazines have done it for eons to draw the reader into an article which was often less interesting than the headline but job done.
Outdoor advertising sites. They on average get our attention for up to three seconds. Maybe longer if you're sat in heavy traffic, of course. But generally they have just a couple of seconds to gain our attention, however subliminal. Outdoor advertisers have long used a clickbait-style short strapline or calls to action to get our awareness to a wider marketing campaign.
So, clickbait. Also not a new idea.
Content marketing, inbound marketing and their ilk. This isn’t a new thing either, just a new name to describe marketing activities which have been around for some significant time. Phil Jewitt wrote a great post about this last year - you can read it here.
Marketing is dead
Newspapers are dead
Press releases are dead
Dead is dead…
Everything is dead these days isn’t it?
With the exception of the dodo and Birmingham City's promotion hopes this season most things aren’t dead, they’re just different. They have evolved. Printed newspapers have evolved in digital news sites. Marketing (done right) still influences our purchasing decisions on just about everything we buy. So whilst we still have money in our pockets and goods to buy marketing won’t die. It just develops.
Communications is misunderstood enough as a business function as it is. It's up to us to challenge these misconceptions and 'fake comms activities' whilst there are still enough of us around to do so.
Let’s make fake dead.
Darren Caveney is creator of comms2point0 and owner of creative communicators ltd