Buzzwords: Ping

Back Article May 7, 2018 By Eva Roethler

Get in touch with or send a reminder to a person through any mode of communication.

People are either pro-ping, or they are anti-ping.

A 2017 Summit Hosting survey of 1,000 Americans placed “Ping me” among the three least acceptable buzzwords used in the workplace, alongside “LOL” and “Growth Hack.” Yet, still it persists. Why?

On the surface ping is a playful onomatopoeia that boils down to communication by any means available. Texts, phone calls, emails, app messaging, house visits and smoke signals could all theoretically count as pings. It’s a catch-all phrase for socializing, not for the introverted-at-heart.

The Buzz

Patrick Harbison is a full-time extrovert and owner of Patrick Harbison Public Relations, a Sacramento-based firm, who says he uses the word 3-5 times per day. “I am 100 percent, emphatically, pro-ping. In bold, underlined, exclamation,” Harbison says.

What’s so great about ping? “Ping cuts to it a little bit quicker and has a call to action that the turnaround time is more quick,” Harbison says. “It’s direct. As soon as someone says it to me, or I say it, they immediately know what I mean.”

Due to its ambiguity, ping can’t really be misused. But, Harbison believes the term can be overused, particularly as an action item at meetings. “When you get a lot of PR people on the same call, ‘pings’ start ping-ponging back and forth. It gets a little out of hand,” Harbison says.

The Word

Like it or not, ping transcends platforms, and thus has its useful applications. Plus, Harbison adds, it implies a sense of immediacy that is hard to find in any of its synonyms like “get ahold of” or “reach out.”

Harbison says the best practice when using the term is to quantify when or how the pinging should occur, to reduce any confusion. For example: “Ping me after the meeting,” “Ping me on WhatsApp,” or “I’ll ping Kitty next week!” It’s also best reserved for more social, conversational settings.

There isn’t a quick phrase quite like it, so it may be somewhat necessary if your work revolves around connecting with people. “It’s super fun, cute and sassy. It spices up and peppers the conversation,” Harbison says before adding, “Why be boring?”

Got a word thats been buzzing around your office? Tweet us @Comstocksmag with the hashtag #WhatstheBuzz