Before starting my career in public relations, I worked a variety of blue collar jobs and as a result, I’ve always had a sort of outsider’s view of the industry. Among those observations is the ridiculous desire of the PR industry to be taken seriously by creating impressive-sounding words. Stuff like Speakers Bureau (v-e-r-r-r-r-y impressive); Best Practices (like clients are contemplating using half-assed ones) and the biggest teeth-grinder of them all: Thought Leader.
I mean, what is a thought-leader?
• Is it someone who wakes up and their first act of the day is … a thought?
• Is it that one savvy fella who hangs around with a bunch of cavemen and happens to be the first guy who says, “Hey, I have an idea”?
• Or maybe it’s the person who has so many thoughts firing through their synapses that they are far and away the leader in simply having thoughts?
Now, don’t get me wrong. Some of these words are so ingrained in the PR lexicon that you are almost forced to use them. But I try to be a bit judicious about it and if I can say your COO is an expert instead of “positioning your C-suite executive as a thought leader” then I will.
Because sometimes straight talk is all the credibility you need with clients who are probably done with #AgencySpeak.