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By Graham Norwood

Editor, LLT & LAT

Graham Awards


Industry Views - Purplebricks Is Right - We All Need A BS-Tester

Who says irony is dead?

That Purplebricks, of all agencies, should promote the idea of a ‘BS-Tester’ to identify false promises by agents, will be an irony lost on just about no one in the industry.

The idea was, of course, an April Fool, and one that may have won the agency more attention had April 1 not fallen during the Easter Weekend.


But agents who spotted what listed publicity the wheeze actually secured will no doubt have had a wry smile on their faces, thinking of the promises made - to industry and consumers - when       Purplebricks was under its previous hapless ownership.

Which in turn makes me wonder if there are other signs that we, within the industry, should be on alert for - what are the symbols and buzzwords of BS?

Here’s my top 10.

“Disruptor” - you don’t hear that so much these days, and if Purplebricks has done anything for the industry, it’s perhaps to devalue that word so much it’s rarely used.

“Game Changer” - I first spotted this term in publicity for the ill-fated Veyo conveyancing portal, which promised much and delivered….well, not so much.

“Online Agency” - there was a time when this term was used as a badge of honour but out of the not-so-many online survivors now only Strike and 99Home make a virtue of it. You won’t see the term on Purplebricks’ home page (despite being owned by Strike of course), nor Yopa’s, nor EweMove’s, nor EasyProperty, presumably because they recognise that what used to be a turn-on for consumers has

become, more often than not, a turn-off.

“Innovative” - the shame is that this perfectly respectable word has become something of a BS hallmark after being used so often in press releases for the likes of Purplebricks and Boomin. It’s hard not to groan when you read the claim about a new industry product - even though some of them truly are innovations.

The EastEnders-style capital letter - This was an eye-catching (indeed, innovative) idea when EastEnders arrived back 39 years ago and used a capital in the middle of the word, but in our industry it’s sometimes identified with less successful ideas. Remember ViewRabbit wanting to charge tenants and buyers £30 per viewing, or potentially even more? ‘Nuff said.

“Seamless” - used in almost every PropTech description of two pieces of software working together. It literally means that there is no negative impact resulting from the integration, so could be used as “seamless plate of meat and potatoes” or “seamless working of video and text on your phone” - but that would be silly, wouldn’t it?

Senseless Statistics - increasingly common is a survey of, say, 200 people with the results then extrapolated into a proportion of the UK. It’s typically the preserve of small companies trying to exaggerate a problem. So they find that half their small sample believe there’s a crisis and then extrapolate that into a press release saying “50 per cent of Britain says there’s a crisis”.

“Brits” - some companies use this as a shorthand, possibly because their publicists are not sure whether the word they should really use is “Britons” or “Britains”.

“Solution” - do you remember when companies simply sold a product or a service? Not any more. Now they flog a ‘solution’. This is a favourite word from companies that promote products/services that some in our industry might regard as a little … well, dodgy.

“Gen Z” - be honest…do you know what this means, statistically? Officially, they’re the folks born between the late 1990s and the early 2010s. You could use the term ‘young people’ but that would be too explanatory and not cool enough for BS pedlars.


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