Why I hate use of the phrase 'game changer' in press releases

'Game changer' is a pointless phrase. It litters press release headlines every day, but it doesn't really tell you anything.

Drop use of the phrase 'game-changer', suggests Stephanie Mullins
Drop use of the phrase 'game-changer', suggests Stephanie Mullins

I’ll offer some examples. Uber was a game changer. Airbnb was a game changer. These companies are disrupting huge industries, but simply saying that they are game changers doesn’t demonstrate anything that they are doing.

And in the world of communications we must be explicit with what we want to say.

Uber threatens black cabs with extinction. Airbnb could destroy hotel bookings as we know it.

Now these headlines are descriptive yet simple, interesting and prompt feelings of intrigue, of wanting to know more.

People on the streets of London discuss Uber’s damage to black cabs, whether cabbies would lose their jobs and be put out of business entirely. Perhaps the streets of the British capital would never look the same again.

You wouldn’t hear someone say "Hey, did you hear that Uber is a game changer?"

The phrase brings to mind George Orwell’s ideas on clean, clear, and direct prose.

In his famous essay "Politics and the English Language", his rules for writing have become known as the writer’s toolbox.

They’re important to remember for public relations professionals who want to be successful communicators.

He recommends never using a jargon word if there is an equivalent. In this case, there seems to be plenty of other options that don’t run the risk of plummeting straight into the junk folder.

Orwell also suggests never using a figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

Still, communications output has become saturated with marketing products and ideas as 'game-changing'. It’s lost its impact.

A simple online search shows its overuse across industries, from healthcare and technology to sport.

Not every new idea or product changes the market that it’s launched into and dubbing something so causes its potential influence to be damaged.

It’s the job of PR professionals to be upfront on behalf of clients and companies.

It’s not the job of their audiences to have to try and work out what they want to say, or what they are doing. The mystery behind the game changer shouldn’t be theirs to uncover.

As a former journalist, I never wanted to work out what a communications department or agency was trying to tell me.

The title of a press release needed to say exactly what I’d find out more about if I read it.

The minds of most reporters think quickly and spend time wisely. There would be no time wasted on exchanges that were vague and difficult to fathom.

Personally, I advocate that we never use 'game changer' again.

Stephanie Mullins is an account manager at BlueSky PR

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