Phrase Malaise


Phrase Malaise


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What if I was to tell you our clients are “award-winning innovators”? Or describe their work as “dynamic”, “world class” or “iconic”? Most likely you’d shrug and tell me you’ve heard it all before. And you have. These terms have become so common in press releases that they’ve lost their potency.

Just the other day, I came across a press release (from another PR company, mind you!) in which the first sentence described a designer’s work as “cutting-edge”, “groundbreaking” and “innovative”. Did I mention all three phrases were crammed into the opening line? Overkill, much?

Last year PR consultant Adam Sherk ran a search through PRWeb’s press release archive. His goal? To identify the most overused buzzwords used by marketers and PR reps. He ended up with a list of 100 of the most done-to-death terms (See the full list here). Topping the list is ‘leader’ (doesn’t every company think they’re the “leader in their field”). Rounding out the top five are ‘leading’, ‘best’, ‘top’ and ‘unique’.

Yes, we’re all guilty of using these go-to terms. But that’s not being lazy — often there isn’t a better, simpler alternative.

Still, this list reminds us just how cliché these phrases have become.  As communicators, we need to be use language that is concise, accurate and entertaining. Our writing should surprise and reflect a personality. And finally the words we choose should be inventive, evocative andunique, innovative, dynamic individual.

What words should be banned from press releases? What other words have lost their power? What word should claim the title as the ‘Most Overused Buzzword’?

Paul Calder

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