In December 2000 The Gable Group launched JargonFreeWeb (www.jargonfreeweb.com), a Web site dedicated to eradicating jargon from the high-tech public relations industry. The site features the Jargonator, a tool that measures the jargon content of copy on a one-to-six scale. Words such as solutions, first, leading, cutting-edge, best, first mover, and end-to-end doom a news release. A score of 1 means the copy is jargon-free and suitable for publication, while a score of 6 means the writer should “put it in the bottom of your bird cage and start over.”
RESEARCH & PLANNING
Tom Gable, CEO and founder of The Gable Group, was inspired to launch an anti-jargon crusade after the technology boom of the late 90’s brought forward a horde of self-important start-ups, almost all of which believed that using an array of big words and calling themselves the leader in their field would mean guaranteed success.
Gable had noticed a media backlash against the constant deluge of jargon flowing out of public relations agencies and technology companies all over the country. Many reporters had gone so far as to create jargon filters on their email to automatically delete messages containing some of the most offensive and over-used words.
Gable Group staffers attended major media conferences in New York, Chicago and San Francisco, interviewed key media and analyzed the agency’s own miscues with the media to begin formulating a plan to stop the jargon stream that was paralyzing the industry.
The Gable Group had two objectives when it decided on the concept of an anti-jargon Web site:
- Bring awareness to the problem that was giving the public relations profession a bad name
- Position The Gable Group as an agency that effectively communicates technology news by cutting through jargon and gets to the point
The Gable Group selected jargon terms from media interviews, media sites such as buzzkiller.net and Gable research, which analyzed news releases issued during one week over the wire service. More than half the companies claimed to be “leading providers” of something, but never submitted evidence to support the claim.
The site provides recommendations on avoiding jargon and is updated regularly as PR professionals weigh in with jargon alternatives and case histories. The site asks for examples of the “worst press releases ever written” and each month a media panel selects the worst release nominated.
JargonFreeWeb was officially launched on December 11, 2000. The launch of the site was accompanied by targeted pitching to public relations trade publications, major national newspapers and San Diego-area media.
To date, The Gable Group has received an overwhelming response from journalists and public relations professionals from all over the world and Tom Gable has been positioned as an “anti-jargon guru.” The site was a Yahoo! “Pick of the Week” and has been featured in numerous local and nationwide publications, including The New York Times Online, PR Week, Ragan’s Media Relations Report, PR Quarterly, The T Sector and the San Diego Business Journal.