Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Buzzword Bingo at CERAWeek (Beware the Black Swan)




Public Relations professionals have long lamented the string of buzzwords that every industry uses to describe its day-to-day work. Unfortunately, CERAWeek speakers in Houston this week have been accosted by this same plague. Allow me to illuminate you.

Yesterday at a cafe outside the morning plenary session, I heard a speaker on a nearby television mention a "black swan" event. This is not the first time I had heard this term during the conference. There was a gentleman sitting across from me typing away on his iPad and I introduced myself and asked, "do you know what a black swan event is?"

He said he did not and had not explored it because he was embarrassed he did not know. We had to Google it. It turns out it is a finance term that references an event that deviates from what is expected with far reaching impact. Why can't we just say that? Because its sexier to say "black swan." Unfortunately, its not good communication.

The black swan has had several friends here this week as well -- above the ground challenges, shale gale and many others.

Buzzwords may make us feel clever, but I think it is important to remember that simple words are still best when trying to communicate. That is unless you want to be a black swan event yourself and deviate from what's effective.

Andy Hallmark
Partner
Potomac Communications Group

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Houston, Texas

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