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COVID-19 dictionary of buzzwords we’re all sick of hearing


In this piece, AZK Media Director of Content and Communications Vanessa Mitchell reveals a list of pandemic buzzwords media and marketers should avoid - and why they’re starting to annoy, irritate and deter your audience from engaging with your content…


Welcome to the age of ‘covid-vertising’


Is it just me, or are you all tired of the marketing buzzwords that have sprung up as a result of the pandemic?


COVID-19 has been bad enough without the buzzwords. In fact, it’s so bad there’s even a buzzword about the buzzwords: ‘Covid-vertising’.


Everyone is covid-vertising right now in a vain attempt to market to the masses. It’s so bad it's almost impossible to wade through the mire.


Nobody wants to read another piece of comms like this: In these unprecedented times we are apparently navigating change to function in the new normal, so let's pivot quickly and apply new thinking in this challenging period.


Personally, I’d really like our ‘new normal’ in these ‘unprecedented times’ to be sans buzzwords. In fact, constant references to ‘new normal’ makes me eye-roll so hard I see my own brain stem!





Why it’s time to put the buzzwords into lockdown


Enough already. We get the point. COVID has mucked everyone around and we are all struggling through it, and none of us really know what’s on the other side. But no matter how bad it is, there’s no excuse for cliche-riddled groupthink!


The buzzwords aren’t helping you get to the point. In fact, they are causing more harm than good because they are coming off as trite and trivialising, and are causing people to turn off and not listen to what might be pretty important messages.


And I am not the only one who thinks so, AdNews just did a whole feature on buzzwords as well, as has the Sydney Morning Herald.


So please, I’m begging, no more buzzwords.


Here’s an A-Z of COVID buzzwords and why it’s time to avoid them:



Agility: Don’t even get me started on this. It was already overused before the pandemic by journalists, comms departments, marketers and the C-Suite, let alone now. Used to the point where it is now severely diluted in its meaning. Use it sparingly, if at all.


Amid: PRDaily just did a great post on ‘amid’. We know where we are on this one!


Big data: It’s just data now.

Challenging period: It’s a global pandemic, there’s no need to state the obvious...


Digital transformation: We all know about the significance of this term by now, and if you don’t understand how it applies to your industry, you might be in the wrong business...


Disruption: Everything from the pandemic to not getting coffee of a morning is now counted as disruption.


Doubling down: Eh? You’re committed to a course of action or you’re not. Can we give this term back to Black Jack?


Ducks in a row: Please leave the ducks alone, they’ve been in enough rows, they’re tired.


Economic uncertainty: It’s a global pandemic, is there any certainty about anything?


Flattening the curve: We all know by now the curve is actually a prolonged wave.


Front line: Unless you are actually on the front line, you don’t get to claim this.


Ideation: They are just ideas. COVID doesn’t make it any fancier.


Impactful: It’s not impactful unless you can genuinely prove it with the right data.


In the time of COVID: We know we are in the time of COVID. You might as well say Tuesday.


Marketing reinvention: No. No. Just NO. Marketing is reinvention. Always was, always will be. It’s in its very nature!


Marketing transformation: Don’t make me say it again. See ‘marketing reinvention’.


Moving forward: If you’ve found a way to move backward, please give me a call and let me know what it is because I’ve got a birthday coming up I don’t want to face.


Navigating change/crisis: Unless you are a ship’s captain or Han Solo plotting a light speed course, you are not navigating anything.


New normal: No, this isn’t the new normal, because normal, by definition, is not new. It conforms to a standard. Look it up.


New thinking: All thinking should be new, not just because of a pandemic. Marketers, by definition of their jobs, must always be undertaking new thinking. Old thinking hardly gets us anywhere, does it?


Now more than ever: Losing...the...will...to...live....


Pivoting quickly: Are you a ballerina? Then you are not pivoting.


Post-pandemic: Do any of us actually know when this will be? Anyone? Bueller…?


Reimagined events: All events are having to be ‘reimagined’ right now. You ain't special.


Radical innovation: Tautology of the highest order. Get in the bin.


The ‘rona: Rather trivialising of a serious issue, don’t ya think?


Times like these: See any above examples. Pick one.


Tool box: Unless you are a plumber you do not have a tool box.


Uncertain path ahead: No paths are certain, ever, pre or post pandemic.


Unprecedented times: Also not accurate. Unprecedented means never done or known before. Very few things are unprecedented, yet this pops up in media releases as often as ‘world’s leading technology company’. Which is also about as true.


We’re all in this together: Are we, though?


Next steps…


If you find yourself regurgitating buzzwords in your articles like a mother bird feeding her baby, here are a few tips:


  1. Staaahhhppppp. We all know what times we are in, they are all askew. Get to the point, we don’t need to hear a single more ‘unprecedented’. Ever. Again.

  2. What is your actual message? Just say that, no one needs the buzzwords. Use an active voice and cut it short. Get back to the consumer. What were you saying to them pre-pandemic? Get back to that.

  3. Are you actually adding value at this time? Or are you just trying to get publicity? Stop and re-examine your strategy.

  4. Think positivity, rather than negativity, right now. Positivity is greatly needed, buzzwords about things we already know aren’t.

  5. If you are distributing buzzword-covered drivel, please just don’t. Wait until you have something important to actually say - sans buzzwords.


Got a buzzword we missed? Send it to us and we'll include!

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