New marketing terms — “Optics” “Reaching Out” “Space” and more

Just when you think you know all the marketing and PR terms, new words enter our lexicon.

People no longer “contact” one another.  They “reach out.”  Situations don’t “look bad.”  They have bad “optics.”  Having “expertise” in a certain endeavor is gone.  Now it is working in a certain “space.”

Interesting how new terms come about, catch on and then become normalized.  These words have always existed, but never used in the context of marketing and PR as they are now.

It is almost as if you date yourself if you don’t play the game.  You can’t tell a client “doing that would be a mistake. It wouldn’t look good.”  You have to say, “the optics of that would be questionable.”  Makes you appear more contemporary.  And heaven forbid you invite someone to contact you with questions, rather than offering them to “reach out.”

Much of this is fueled by mainstream media where on-camera reporters and anchors want to appear young and with it.  It fuels the language, pushes it forward, and makes everybody feel young.

There is nothing wrong with tweaking English.  New sayings and terms come about all the time.  But with the pervasiveness of social media, with billions of new posts a day, new language can take on a life of its own virtually overnight.

So I guess Farr Marketing is no longer a PR consultancy firm.  We operate in the PR “space.”  We don’t contact press to pitch stories, we “reach out.”

We admittedly are guilty of using these terms and more.

We need to be aware of the “optics.”

The art of PR in Los Angeles

Anybody in the PR business knows just how much the business has changed over the past decade.  There was a time when we could book clients on radio shows that had civil discourse and discussed both sides of an issue.  Seems that time has come and gone.

Today, radio has become all hosts and few guests.  A few remain, but the major radio outlets are dominated by personalities who talk solo for hours on end.  Occasionally they will have a guest on to prove a point — their point — but that’s about it.  Media is dominated by controversy, name calling, taking sides and putting down everyone who disagrees with you.

It’s unfortunate, but that’s the way it is.  We still are able to book our clients but it is admittedly harder.

The press has evolved from the impartiality of conveying “news” to promoting one side or another.  This is totally opposite what we who went to journalism school were taught.  Being objective was the hallmark of the press.  Somehow, when we weren’t paying attention, objectivity became a thing of the past.

Too bad, because an objective press is what separates us from dictatorships.

Maybe one day objectivity in the media will make a comeback.  Can’t wait.


The Twitter PR battleground

Seems hard to believe, but Twitter is only about 11 years old.  It started as a cute social media venue, used mostly by celebrities to promote their movies and shows.  Somehow it has become a PR battleground and major political communications force.

Twitter now is used by presidents (I don’t have to mention who) and state leaders around the globe.  Police forces, business people, everybody.  It is the favored way to instantly get a message out, hopefully reposted, and then often regretted.

It is fascinating that something that allows only 140 characters can become so powerful.  Of course most people post multiple messages, strung together, to make their point.  But Twitter’s constraints have forced people to write more concisely, use abbreviations they make up and often convey nonsensical messages.

President Trump has said he believes he wouldn’t have been elected without Twitter.  He touted his Twitter account years before entering politics and has never stopped using it.  Today, as the leader of the most powerful nation in the world, he still refuses to give up the habit, much to the chagrin of many Americans who see it as “unpresidential.”

What does this say about our communications, PR and marketing?  It says a lot, but foremost it underscores the fact that we don’t have the time or patience to write complete, thoughtful sentences. It says a lot about lashing out impulsively at another person, a company or a government.

The lesson to be learned from the Twitter craze is it often does more harm than good for the user.  How many people have been fired for insensitive or racist Twitter posts?  How many people in prominent positions have had to retract their Twitter posts, only to see them live on.

Instant communication via social media or even email is tempting.  Getting back at someone quickly through electronic communications can provide instant gratification.  However, for most people if they take a couple of hours, and a few deep breaths, they usually decide it is not worth it.

The internet never forgets, and too often people never forgive.