Blogs & Comment

How to stop spouting jargon. Now

A New York copywriter's cure for douchebaggery in marketing.


(Photo: Mitchell Haaseth/NBC)

It starts small. You’re in a meeting and someone says “going forward” instead of just “from now on.” Then you’re sending an email where “action items” have taken the place of a “to do list.”

Pretty soon you’re in meetings talking about “multi-access point engagement” and “measurement framework.” Before you know it,you’re cross-pollenating social channels, becoming platform agnostic and not even using finger quotes for it. And just like that, you’ve become a complete corporate jargon-spewing douchebag.

But don’t worry! A recent blog post by Karina Portuondo will help you cure this awful affliction. A strategist and copywriter at award-winning Brooklyn-based digital marketing agency Big Spaceship, Portuondo has posted online a presentation she made at a few American Advertising Federation events called, “Douchebaggery in Marketing: How Semantics Get in the Way of Good Work,” and it lays out a few simple rules that can easily be expanded beyond marketing to all aspects of business communication.

The basic idea is that by stripping away as much jargon as possible, your communication with co-workers, clients and customers will get significantly clearer and more effective. One of the best rules Portuondo lays out is, Pretend Like You’re Talking to Your Mom. “Your mom doesn’t know what CPG stands for,” she writes. “She doesn’t know about transmedia storytelling or propagation planning. And it’s not because she’s not a smart lady. She’s just not entrenched in industry BS.”

Another point she tackles is the centuries-old dilemma of calling people “users” or “consumers.” Sometimes people are just people. “Not ‘momfluentials’ or ‘citysumers.’ Just people.”

Check out the post and presentation for a more detailed look. For further reading and counseling during the inevitable conference call relapse, Portuondo suggests checking out, @industryjargon, and

This should help you transition back into a full-fledged, regular human being. As long as you stop using the ol’ finger guns, too.