Can We Guess Why Some PR and Advertising Firms Like to Complicate the Simple?

On Twitter, I posted up a tweet that got some response and seemingly, a request for elaboration.

The tweet:

Here’s some context. All you have to do is visit the web site of any number of PR firms, and advertising and marketing firms for that matter, and you’ll notice that the firm before you likes to say it does things differently. It does things in ways no other firm has ever done. It has this proprietary method for getting to the root of your problem and delivering “strategic outcomes.” It’s even trademarked a spiffy acronym or name it uses to describe this mysterious process that only this firm and its people can understand.

Of course, all you have to do is hire this firm, and they’ll be glad to explain it to you, but you have to trust them with the big thinking.

The formula is familiar. Take a simple problem, like trying to sell more products, and apply some abstract methodology that most certainly is designed to head-fake you into thinking they really are doing something new. They use invented terminology, fad words like “ideation.” They want to confuse you into thinking they’ve figured out something no one else has. They try to make you think that effective PR, marketing or advertising can be so complex, that’s why you need to hire them.

This is nothing new. Management consultants invented the art of taking something simple and basic and complicating it to the point that they can assign hundreds of consultants to a project and bill millions for the work, all to unravel what is sometimes confusion that they themselves created.

In the end, you find yourself back where you started. Sure, the consultant you hired may have delivered on its promise, but was all that jargon and complexity and cost really necessary?

Sometimes certain hiring managers like the idea of paying more for things they don’t understand, and when a consultant is able to break things down too simply, the hiring manager doesn’t have a full appreciation for the sophistication behind that simplicity, and therefore doesn’t perceive the value at play.

This is why some firms seem to think that making the simple sound more complex so as to confuse is their ticket to profit. If you want a red flag, just look for the “™” after their proprietary method that’s probably just a repackaging of what we all do. The only difference is some do it better than others.

I’m in the camp where our primary job is to take complex and sometimes abstract thoughts, concepts and information, and translate it in the most simple terms, terms that everyone can understand and relate to. That’s how we make a difference. No jargon. No new acronyms. Just effective public relations work that breaks through the clutter and connects with people. That’s the true value at play.


Originally published at O’Brien Communications.

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