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The Gobbledygook Manifesto — Cutting Edge! Mission Critical! An analysis of gobbledygook in over 388,000 press releases sent in 2006

13 October 2006 No Comment

Oh jeez, not another flexible, scalable, groundbreaking, industry-standard, cutting-edge product from a market-leading, well positioned company! Ugh. I think I'm gonna puke! Just like with a teenager's use of annoying catch phrases, I notice the same words cropping up again and again in Web sites and news releases—so much so that the gobbledygook grates against my nerves and many other people's, too. Well, duh. Like, companies just totally don't communicate very well, you know?

Many of the thousands of Web sites I've analyzed over the years and the hundred or so news releases I receive each week are laden with these meaningless gobbledygook adjectives. So I wanted to see exactly how many of these words are being used and created an analysis to do so.

AN ANALYSIS OF GOBBLEDYGOOK

First, I selected words and phrases that are overused in news releases by polling select PR people and journalists to get a list of gobbledygook phrases. Then I turned to Factiva, a Dow Jones & Reuters Company, for help with my analysis. The folks at the Factiva Reputation Lab used text mining tools to analyze news releases sent by companies in North America. Factiva analyzed each release in its database that had been sent to one of the North American news release wires it distributes for the period from January 1, 2006, to September 30, 2006. The news release wires included in the analysis were Business Wire, Canada NewsWire, CCNMatthews, Commweb.com, Market Wire, Moody’s, PR Newswire, and Primezone Media Network.

The results were staggering. The news release wires collectively distributed just over 388,000 news releases in the nine-month period, and just over 74,000 of them mentioned at least one of the Gobbledygook phrases. The winner was “next generation,” with 9,895 uses. There were over 5,000 uses of each of the following words and phrases: “flexible,” “robust,” “world class,” “scalable,” and “easy to use.” Other notably overused phrases with between 2,000 and 5,000 uses included “cutting edge,” “mission critical,” “market leading,” “industry standard,” “turnkey,” and “groundbreaking.” Oh and don't forget “interoperable,” “best of breed,” and “user friendly,” each with over 1,000 uses in news releases.

There is much more in The Gobbledygook Manifesto on my blog. Check it out.  

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