Doug Haslam: Gischeleman’s Blog

July 18, 2007

It’s time to kill “post mortem”

Filed under: Business — doughaslam @ 6:45 am

I have heard this phrase too many times, and it’s time to revive my campaign from several years ago to rid our world of this little indicator of negativity.

“Post mortem.”

Why, after any completed project, campaign or event, must we have a “post mortem?”

Why, if the project, campaign or event is successful, do we call this meeting a “post mortem?”

“Post mortem” means, literally, “after death.” I understand that the finality of death corresponds to the end of an event. But to use an actual death metaphor– not a metaphors, is it? The actual word, then– to refer to your project infers that something went wrong.

Was your publicity event an utter failure? Did someone die during your fundraising campaign? Are you performing an autopsy on a deceased human being? Perhaps “post mortem” fits.

If not, why not use “post factum” instead? Yes, it means “after the fact.”

I first noticed this absurdity back in my public radio days, when during the on-air fundraisers, the staff would hold “post mortems” after each day of fundraising. “Nobody died!” I would yell. “We met our goals! Call the meeting something else.” I was a smartass in those days. I’m trying to recall, but I think I did get some people to stop referring to what were usually celebratory recountings of what went right as “pst mortems.” A small victory, if I’m not imagining it.

After hearing an informative segment on “post mortems” on the Inside PR podcast, I realized that it’s time to revive the campaign to stamp out “post mortem.”

Please, so your part. “Post factum,” please

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  1. Hey Doug,

    Excellent point you make. I hereby pledge to rid the misuse of “post-mortem” from my writing and speech. Your point is… uhm…dead on. Thanks for your comment on IPR about this. We’ll talk about it next show.

    Comment by Terry Fallis — July 19, 2007 @ 1:57 pm

  2. Now that’s the response I am looking for– kill it dead– thanks!

    Comment by Doug Haslam — July 19, 2007 @ 2:02 pm

  3. […] on the Grammar Vandal: striking a blow for proper English. Plus, yet another appeal to get rid of “Post Mortem” in business […]

    Pingback by PRobecast 25: Social Media PR, Grammar Vandal, and more « Gischeleman’s Blog — July 20, 2007 @ 2:46 pm

  4. I wish I shared my excellent co-host’s zeal for your campaign.

    While you’re at it, go after “deadline,” “burying the lead,” “killing a story,” “if it bleeds, it leads,” and “man bites dog.”

    Without this carnage, death and destruction, there wouldn’t be much call for us “spin doctors.”

    Comment by David Jones — July 23, 2007 @ 11:21 am

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