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Bringing clarity to new media jargon

Photo courtesy of austinevan via Flickr

Photo courtesy of austinevan via Flickr

Yesterday, a British Parliament committee called out UK politicians and civil servants in general for their overuse of jargon. In a report, the committee complained that in politics, technical terms are often used to “hide the fact that the speaker or writer doesn’t really understand what they are writing or talking about.”

Effective communications professionals know to avoid the clutter and confusion that jargon brings to news releases and pitches. Now more than ever as we try to reach individuals through social technologies who may not be familiar with all our favorite terms of art, it pays to simplify our language. But just as importantly, we need to avoid hiding behind words with amorphous meanings when we discuss communications itself.

Influence. Engagement. Transparency. Authenticity. Blogs and trade literature are littered with these terms. Yesterday at the Influence Scorecard meeting in New York, organized by Phil Sheldrake at Influence Crowd, I took part in a discussion about bringing some clarity to these and other common terms in our field. I look forward to sharing here some of the definitions we’re working on, but just asking the questions about what these words really mean was great fun. For example can “engagement” mean that a person merely found an article interesting, or does it mean that person took action such as tweeting, linking to or otherwise sharing the article? What do these words mean to you?

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