Sunday, November 23, 2014

Drive, Pivot, Curate

Buzzwords come and go in the business world (is “buzzword” one of them, destined to be supplanted, or already archaic?) But they’re not just casual expressions. When you think about it, there’s real intent behind them.

One of the popular words currently is “drive.” If you’re marketing or blogging or communicating in some form and your stuff isn’t driving something, you’d better rethink you plan, because everyone else’s is.

It's the stylish new way, for now, of saying that something you're doing that used to cause an event to happen or motivate people to do something now drives those things. It's muscular.

It's also pretty much all-purpose. You can drive anything from web site readership to a whole marketing campaign.

The most evocative use of the word, for me, is that of “driving people to a web page.” It conjures those old Cecil B. DeMille  movie epics -- “Cast Of Thousands!” -- where dark-haired men in miniskirts and jeweled tunics coax groups of ragged people to build pyramids, usually with encouragement from whips.

Then there’s “pivot.” Where people used to change what they were doing to doing something else, now they pivot. For large organizations, changing course can be like turning an aircraft carrier. “Pivot,” then, is meant to imply that the change is instant, a clean break with what went before. The organization has turned on a dime. 

“Curating” is another popular word (“curate” twisted into a verb. You can tell it didn’t start out in life that way when you go to a traditional dictionary. A “curator” is defined as one who has charge of or is a guardian for some one or thing. It ain’t “one who curates.”)  

In the online world it's aggregating (another stylish word) stuff other people have written and using it for your own purposes. Think of it as an even more sincere form of flattery than imitation: poaching. 

Full disclosure/confession: I’ve done it. Years ago I worked in a small advertising agency, and we published an external newsletter (it would be a “blog” today) for which I swiped (“curated”) articles from more respected publications and reviewed them.       I wish I had known to call it curating back then; it sounds so dignified.