Commentaries and Op/Eds
I believe that those of us who have had the benefit of foreign travel have an obligation to share what we
think we know with our fellow citizens. -- William Jefferson Clinton
PR Today Is Too Full Of Jargon and Buzz Words
Published Friday, June 7, 2019, O'Dwyer's Newsletter and Huntington News Net
BY RENE A. HENRY
SEATTLE, Wash., June 7 – I recently received a publicity release that had more jargon and
buzz words than I can remember in my years working in public relations. Add to that the job
titles being given to so many people today and you start to wonder if words really mean what
Three of the most overused words I keep seeing are “strategic,” “branding,” and “utilize.”
Strategic and branding have become two of the buzz words of the 21st Century. When I see a
story using them, I ask myself what does this really mean? And why don’t people just say or
write “use” instead of “utilize.” If you really want to stump someone, ask them to define the
difference between the two words.
Reading news releases today reminds me of an article I read some 40 years ago that
criticized and mocked people who used – not utilized - superfluous language. It suggested if
someone wanted a buzz word to just simply create one by choosing one each from the three
Column One Column Two Column Three
1. total 1. management 1. options
2. systematized 2. monitored 2. flexibility
3. parallel 3. reciprocal 3. mobility
4. functional 4. digital 4. programing
5. responsive 5. logic 5. concept
6. optical 6. transitional 6. time-phase
7. synchronized 7. incremental 7. projection
8. compatible 8. third-generation 8. enhancement
9. balanced 9. policy 9. contingency
0. integrated 0. generational 0. capability
It won’t be long before I read about someone utilizing total strategic branding or balanced
digital programing. Or perhaps even integrated generational capability. Regarding titles, they
also have become superfluous. Secretaries are a thing of the past. Now executive assistants
work for the CEO and president. Some I have dealt with would more appropriately be titled a
clerk-typist, provided the individual can type. And what about those people who tell you, “I work
in the office of the president,” when they actually are in customer service and based hundreds
or thousands of miles from the president and his headquarters.
Some of my other pet peeves are the repeated misuse of a score of words and writing or
saying an event is a “first” annual or that a record is a “new” record.
We have people in PR and the media who have never seen the Associated Press
Stylebook. I wonder where they learned journalism, or how to write, when they use the U.S.
Postal Service’s two capital letters for states instead of standard abbreviations. How many can
even name the eight states that AP says to never abbreviate: Alaska, Hawai’i, Idaho, Iowa,
Maine, Ohio, Texas and Utah. It gets worse when you consider grammar, and especially how
often a radio or television anchor, reporter or news reader mispronounces a word or name.
I asked my friend, Patrick Boyle, for his thoughts. A former editor of the Pittsburgh Press, he
is one of the best grammarians I have worked with, and headed my media relations when I
worked for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. I remember when Pat brought me a
news release edited by a Department of Justice lawyer. Pat marked more than a dozen errors
in red. The lawyer demanded the article be sent to the media the way he wrote it, so we did,
but with his name and a note to the editor to be sure and check for any grammar mistakes.
“In today’s fast-paced world, buzz words and modern jargon arise freely among the young,
in social media, and in advertising which seeks to exploit pop culture,” Boyle says. “Sadly,
grammar (and even spelling) are hopelessly broken. This is largely the result of the Internet,
and composition using only two thumbs on a pocket-sized computer.
“The speed of 21st Century communication leaves little time for proof-reading. Newspapers
with a staff of editors have long served as the standard for correct writing. That was then. Now
newspapers are collapsing, shrinking, and eliminating staff, and circulation. Adherence to
grammar, style and spelling seems to be dying with newsprint.
“On the positive side, people communicate much more freely than they ever did, but
everything is convenience,” he adds. Type it and send it is the order of the day. The internet is
a huge democracy of ideas where speed matters more than accuracy.
"In the age of social media and spell-check, proofreading is obsolete. Spell-check was
designed to autocorrect spelling errors, but often inserts errors instead. On the other hand, free
grammar and spell checkers are available online, and the best ones will even guard against
As my friend Pat reminded me, English is a living language and changing. We certainly no
longer have “thee” and “thou” from Victorian times. But I’m not sure what has evolved today is
for the best. I just wish those in PR and the media would say what they mean and mean what
Selected Op/Eds and Commentaries
To access any of the following click on the headline ...
PR Today Is Too Full Of Jargon and Buzz Words, June 7, 2019, O'Dwyer's Newsletter, Huntington News
I recently received a publicity release that had more jargon and buzz words than I can remember in my
years working in public relations. Add to that the job titles being given to so many people today and
you start to wonder if words really mean what they say. Three of the most overused words I keep seeing
are “strategic,” “branding,” and “utilize.” Strategic and branding have become two of the buzz words of
the 21st Century.....
Hollywood Menality Kills Customer Service, March 19, 2019, O'Dwyer's Newsletter
Traditions and business practices change with generations, but in my opinion there's no excuse for bad
manners and a lack of good old-fashioned common courtesy. Since I retired, much has changed in
Hollywood and I don't believe all for the good. ...
Women Were Active In Business and Finance In Victorian Britain, December 27, 2018
More than 150 years before the women’s movement in the U.S, women were breadwinners in Great
Britain and active in business, finance and investments and taking care not only of their families but
sometimes relatives as well. In her new book, “Women, Literature and Finance in Victorian Britain,”
Dr. Nancy Henry details how many women novelists, who also were investors, incorporated their life
experiences in their fiction. “The book is about economic history in the 19th Century placing women
at the center of a narrative of capitalist development that has traditionally kept them on the margins,”
she said. “Fiction actually tracks the presence of real women investors and their roles in business and
Can Backing Bush Hurt a Celebrity - V.P.'s Campaign Aide Sees Hollywood Bias Against
Conservatives - published with permission of the Los Angeles Times, Monday, October 17, 1988
Rene A. Henry Jr. says he's "not going to name names." But the director of Entertainment USA for the Bush
campaign wants to talk about how difficult it is getting celebrities, even "some very big names," to go public
with their support for the Republican candidates in this election....
Politicians and Corporate America Are Killing the Truth - published by Jack O'Dwyer's Newsletter
and Caribbean News Now, May 18, 2018
So-called leaders in Washington, D.C. and corporate America are killing the truth. Even worse, society is
condoning the lies. The public has known for years that politicians and many companies and organizations
lie. Now lies are so common and widespread that unfortunately lying is becoming accepted behavior.
News and Fake News - What to Believe?, published by Huntington News Network, October 23, 2017
Every day we are inundated with information – perhaps even too much information – but what can we
believe? What is real news or fake news? Fact or fiction? Truths, half-truths or lies? Or even so-called
Law Enforcement Must Communicate In Crises - published by Huntington News Network,
October 1, 2017
Unlawful actions and misconduct by rogue police officers are creating a serious negative image for law
enforcement and a significant and unbudgeted financial expense for the governments they serve.
For years, police who protect and serve were held in the highest regard by the public. However, because
of social media and the Internet a negative story about police misconduct today instantly becomes national
news across the country and throughout the world.
ISSUES FACING COLLEGE SPORTS - A white paper looks at Title IX, the Glass Ceiling
Initiative, Equal Pay Act, Clery Act, and tuition transparency as they affect college sports.
Ever Wonder What Congress Is Doing?, published by O'Dwyer June 8, 2017
If you ever wonder why Congress is in such a mess just try to get a response from someone in
the office of Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.). For a follow-up story and white paper I am writing, I
was ready to praise the Senator but first had some questions for her. I tried for more than a week with no
It's Time to Buy Made in the USA, published O'Dwyer November 22, 2016 and Huntington News
Network, November 23, 2016
The American apparel industry is a $250 billion a year market and 98 percent of clothing in the U.S. is now
being manufactured in foreign countries. Colleges and universities, professional sports teams, private clubs
and other organizations have an opportunity to change that and create jobs in this country. ...
Is Common Courtesy Dying?, published August 2, 2016 by O'Dwyer and Huntington News
For 10 years journalists have been writing and talking about more people becoming rude every day.
We now have a generation that does not understand or practice the basics of old fashioned common
courtesy. They obviously never learned from their parents and their children will not learn from them,
making things even worse in the future.
Political Correctness: The Latest Generic Crisis, published March 14, 2016 by O'Dwyer's and Huntington
News Network and March 17, 2016 by Caribbean News Now!
I’ve authored two books on crisis management and communications and in both I cite five crises as being generic to any
company, organization and institution. Today there is a sixth: political correctness. If someone feels offended for virtually
any reason this now can exacerbate into a crisis. Colleges and universities seem to be under the greatest pressure for
change and many have been very quick to respond to any protest. For years the five generic crises were ...
Is Seattle Broken?, published July 21, 2015
Its 1962 World’s Fair transformed Seattle into a world-class city and established the city’s future in technology and as a
portal to the Pacific Rim. Unfortunately, years of inadequate and poor leadership with little or no vision has created
numerous problems this Emerald City now has to face. It has become more like Oz run by the Wicked Witch of the West.
The city is the fifth worse in the U.S. regarding traffic congestion combined with it being one of the fastest growing cities
in the country. Countless potholes wreak havoc on automobiles and are an added cost of living here. Housing is
becoming increasingly unaffordable. There are too many homeless. Income disparity increases every year.
Infrastructure construction projects are behind schedule and over budget. Off-street parking in single family
neighborhoods is rapidly become scarce. ...
NFL Has Become Magnet for Crises, published June 17, 2015 by O'Dwyer's, http://www.odwyerpr.
For the past year the busiest executive at the National Football League has to be the person responsible for crisis
management and communications. The NFL has been besieged with players, staff and even owners involved in
domestic violence, sexual assault, drugs, rules violations, sportsmanship, obstruction of investigations, and even
murder. And the most recent crisis is the story of the NFL and 14 teams receiving $5.4 million between 2011 and 2014
to honor members of the U.S. Military....
Customer Service Is Non-Existent In Government, published June 13, 2015 by Huntington News Network,
Customer service is an oxymoron in government at all levels: federal, state, county and city. It is getting so bad that soon
it will be non-existent. I applauded Rep. Henry Cuellar (R-Texas) when he recognized this and introduced the
Government Customer Service Improvement Act which passed the U.S. House of Representatives on September 11,
2012. His bill is a sad commentary on society today that legislation is needed to remind public servants to practice good
old fashioned common courtesy and to combat their rudeness, inefficiency and incompetency....
Hot Rod Hundley - You Gotta Love Him Baby!
Friends and family of Rodney Clark Hundley will gather here tomorrow (Saturday, April 4) morning to celebrate the life of
this great basketball legend. Better known as Hot Rod, he pleased, thrilled and entertained West Virginia University and
Lakers fans much to the dismay of opposing players and coaches. Basketball will never see another Hot Rod Hundley.
He is a one-of-a-kind. I first met him in March 1954 during the Southern Conference basketball tournament in
Morgantown, W.Va. I was sports information director for William & Mary and working at the press table. Rod sat next to
me during a couple of the games and introduced himself. ...
Book Review: Ball or Bands: A Serious, Honest Discussion About the Role of Football in Schools, published
February 8, 2015 by Huntington News Network
In the months ahead I believe the book “Ball or Bands” will provoke a great deal of controversial discussion during school board meetings
across the U.S. In the months ahead I believe the book “Ball or Bands” will provoke a great deal of controversial discussion. This book
should be a “must read” for every member of a local community school board. I recommend it also be on the reading lists of school
educators and leaders in higher education ....
Book Review: Privatization and the Public Good: Public Universities in the Balance: The Higher Education
Crisis Gets Worse, published January 14, 2015 by Huntington News Network
Our nation’s colleges and universities have been in a crisis mode for many years and according to Matthew T. Lambert
since no one can agree on the problems, finding the solutions is nearly impossible. Lambert, who is vice president for
university advancement at The College of William & Mary, did intense and comprehensive research before writing this
book including interviews with more than 150 lawmakers and senior executives in higher education. It is no wonder the
nation’s public colleges and universities are in turmoil when he writes: “… very few of the state legislators and governors
interviewed were deeply knowledgeable about higher education or the issues impacting our colleges and universities.”
Sports Need Independent Oversight, published October 22, 2014 by Huntington News Network and
Caribbean News Now!
If sports organizations, leagues and teams want to insure equal disciplinary justice when athletes, coaches and
administrators behave badly they need to create independent committees to take this responsibility. Sexual assault,
rape, domestic violence, DUI and other violent and disreputable acts are becoming all too frequent by athletes and
others in sports. Or at least they are publicly known today and may have not been reported in past years. Recent
violence by National Football League players opened the door for the media ...
National Do Not Call Registry: A Model for Other Federal Agencies, published July 25, 2011 by Huntington
Remember how irritating it was when you had just taken your first bite of dinner and then the telephone rang? Or it was
in the last few minutes of a tied football or basketball game you were watching and your favorite team was poised to win?
But just in case it might be something important, you answered the phone, and a telemarketer began talking at you with
an unsolicited sales pitch. ...
BOOK REVIEW: "West by West': Basketball Superstar Jerry West Tells It All, published by Huntington News
Network, November 8, 2011
When people write their autobiographies or authorize a biography to be written about their lives most only emphasize
their achievements and the best things that have happened. Few ever reveal the dark side of their lives.
Not so with basketball superstar Jerry West. In “West by West – My Charmed, Tormented Life” ( Little, Brown and
Company, 352 pages, $27.99) he tells it all – the good, the bad and the ugly. As I was reading the book, I thought of
myself as a therapist listening to him talk and taking notes. ...
Customer Service An Oxymoron For the Z Generation of Geeks, published July 19, 2011 by Huntington News
Network and July 20, 2011 by Caribbean News Now!
Why is it the geeks responsible for the Internet technology have no sense of customer service? You would think that
anyone employed in social media would have basic communications skills and know that you return every phone call and
answer every letter, email and fax. We’ve had baby boomers, the X generation, and the Y generation. I’ve labeled this
generation of geeks the Z-generation: Z for zero. Zero knowledge of customer service. Zero ability to communicate.
Their knowledge of customer service is ... .
Celeb Handlers, Gate Guardians Do Disservice to Their Clients, Need Crisis Communications Help,
published June 2, 2011 by Huntington News Net, July 7 by The Crisis Manager
Shakespeare wrote in Henry VI, “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers." With a proliferation of crises involving
entertainers and sports stars I believe you can add agents and PR flacks to Shakespeare’s wish list. The people who
are paid to protect their clients and give them the best possible advice, all too often are just not qualified to do so. I
spent a significant part of ....
More Is Less In Washington, published May 24, 2010 by Jack O'Dwyer's Newsletter and Huntington News
The federal government in Washington, D.C. is overflowing with employees. Departments and agencies responsible for
oversight and enforcement are doing neither these days. And Congressional staffs, paid for by taxpayers, are larger
than ever before. ...
Haiti Needs U.S. Housing Design and Systems Now, published May issue of Automated Builder and
published May 13, 2010 by Caribbean Net News and Huntington News Network
Since the disastrous 7.0 magnitude earthquake on January 12 that devastated Haiti and killed more than 230,000
people, millions of dollars have poured into the country for food, medicine, medical help, and relief. Today more than two
million people are homeless and hundreds of thousands of Haitians are living in 75 tent camps in and around Port-au-
Prince. Scores of relief organizations and charity agencies ...
SEC and Congress Knew About Porno Problems November 2008, published by Huntington News Network,
May 1, 2008
The furor in the news about senior employees of the Securities and Exchange Commission watching pornography
instead of doing their jobs is not new news. It was first disclosed in the semi-annual SEC Inspector General's September
2008 report to Congress that was made public the day after Thanksgiving. ...
Government Spokesmen Are Paid to Speak, published by O'Dwyers Public Relations News, April 30, 2008
Government spokespeople have an obligation to the taxpaying public to speak to the media when asked to do so. ...
Will People Ever Trust Banks Again?, Published by Huntington News Network September 28, odwyerpr.com
September 29, and Caribbean Net News, September 30, 2009
Banking once was a trusted and respected business. Even after the multitude of bank failures during the Great
Depression of the 1930s and the savings and loan crises of the 1980s and 1990s, bankers were the pillars of their local
communities. What banking and financial institutions need today is a modern-day George Bailey, the role played by
Jimmy Stewart in the 1946 movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” He had the respect and trust ...
Too Much Personal Information on the Internet Could Lead to Identity Theft, published by Caribbean Net
News and Huntington News Network, June 16, 2009
I don’t twit. I don’t even tweet. I un-linked from linked-in. After being Plaxoed, I unsubscribed. I resented being tagged
by Tagged.com. Instead of Facebook, I have my own website. These websites may work for many people because it is a
way to network and stay connected. However, I have found they are very quick to send out information you may not
want others to know. ...
Fight Back When Wronged
This is a three-part series about how to fight back when wronged or maligned, the aspects of libel and criminal libel, and
how the media have double standards of reporting when it comes to athletes, entertainers and celebrities. Published
by Huntington News Network and Caribbean Net News, May 4, 5 and 6, 2009, and Crisis Manager, December
Part 1 - When wronged or defamed, get an immediate correction
Part 2 - Libel: It's what you say and when and where you say it
Part 3 - Does the media have a double standard when it comes to athletes, entertainers and public figures?
Value of Higher Education a Bargain for West Virginians, published April 29, 2009 by Huntington News
Everybody loves a bargain - especially in tough economic times. West Virginians are very fortunate to have exceptional
education values at two of their great public universities - Marshall University and West Virginia University....
Ethics, Integrity, Loyalty Needed In Higher Education, published by Huntington News Network, February 19,
2008 and Caribbean Net News, February 20, 2008
Colleges and universities once were considered the bastions of ethics, integrity, loyalty and commitment. Regrettably,
too many presidents and chancellors today no longer embody or practice these qualities when it comes to intercollegiate
sports. Every year football and basketball coaches are proselytized and enticed to breach their contracts at one
institution so they can hopefully produce a championship season at another. It is greed and to win at all cost. . . .
Writers Guild Missed Great PR Opportunity - Could Learn From Actors, published by Huntington News
Network, O'dwyerpr.com, and Caribbean Net News, January 9, 2007
The Writers Guild of America missed a great public relations opportunity this week when it forced the cancellation of the
annual Golden Globes event. The writers had an opportunity to make a statement, have the biggest names in
Hollywood tell their side of story on television and win big time in the court of public opinion. Hopefully, the Los Angeles
smog will not blur the vision of the members if they are thinking about creating a boycott or forcing the cancellation of
the 80th annual Academy Awards on February 24...
Dubai - The Country Built By American Consumption published by Huntington News Network, May 18, 2007
and Jack O'Dwyer's Newsletter
In the 1930s when Yankee Stadium was built in the Bronx borough of New York City, a sportswriter labeled it “The House
That Ruth Built” in honor of baseball’s Babe Ruth. One visit to Dubai, with its virtually incalculable wealth and obscene
and blatant extravagance, and one could easily call this “The Country Built By American Consumption.”
Why Can't the U.S. Learn From Other Countries?, published by Jack O'Dwyer's Newsletter and Huntington
News Network, June 18, 2007
I just returned from a six-week trip with stops in Canada, Asia, Indonesia, Europe and the United Kingdom. Members of
Congress and those in the Bush administration in Washington could learn much from some of the places I visited. It was
very discouraging to read editorials and commentaries and see the political cartoons in newspapers and magazines and
listen to television commentators continually criticize the U.S. for our diplomatic and foreign policy and being in Iraq.
Thank You DMA, For A No Junk Mail List, published by Huntington News Network, January 22, 2008
For years I have complained about getting too much mail I didn’t want. Especially catalogs. Some companies even sent
me two or three identical copies. And, even when I moved to another city they still found a way to catch up with me and
clutter my mailbox. For years I have advocated what I call a “No Junk Mail Registry.”
It's Time for a 'No Junk Mail Registry' published by Huntington News Network, November 5, 2006
If you're like me, you probably get too much junk mail. And this being a busy time of the year, with upcoming holidays,
you're probably inundated with gift catalogs. ...
Fact or Fiction? Television News, News Magazines and Primetime Dramas, published by Huntington News
Network, July 9, 2006, from an updated and revised guest opinion originally published May 8, 2002 in the
Arizona Daily Star, Tucson
We live today in an information society. The American public is saturated with information from the media and the
Internet. And, it is getting harder and harder to separate fact from fiction. ...
Higher Education Can Take A Lesson From WVU, published by Huntington News Network, May 7, 2006
America's colleges and universities could take a lesson from West Virginia University on the message that needs to be
communicated to the general public. Millions of dollars of free advertising time went to waste during the recent NCAA
"March Madness" basketball tournament. If the NCAA, various conferences and colleges and universities wanted to win
public financial support for higher education, they lost. ...
Mr. Chertoff: Please Get Your Act Together!, published by Huntington News Network, October 17, 2006
Every time I fly, I question whether I am as safe as I was before 9/11 because of all of the confusion getting to my seat
on the plane. I pray that my flight crew and air traffic controllers know what they are doing better than the security
Who Do You Want Running Your Company?, published by Huntington News Network, March 25, 2006,
If you are a CEO of a company would you want someone not qualified and not associated with the company to dictate
your future? And, if you own stock in a public company, would you want this person telling management what it should
and should not be doing? Unfortunately, this happens every day. It affects the trade price of public stocks. Individuals
in the research departments ...
Television Primetime Now a Market For Issues, published by PR Week, September 2, 2005
For years companies have sought to place their products on primetime television programs and in feature films. A
few seconds of exposure on a popular drama or comedy series can be worth as much as $500,000 based on the
cost of a 30-second commercial. ... If you ever wonder why Congress is in such a mess just try to get a response
from someone in the office of Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.). For a follow-up story and white paper I am writing, I
was ready to praise Senator but first had some questions for her. I tried for more than a week with no success.
Traditions and business practices change with generations, but in my opinion there's no excuse for bad manners
nd a lack of good old-fashioned common courtesy. Since I retired, much has changed in Hollywood and I don't
believe all for the good.