I saw two very funny tweets from The Daily Telegraph’s Harry Wallop yesterday, both highlighting why we (PR folk) don’t necessarily have the greatest of reputations.
It’s a shame, because for the most part, the talent in the UK is exceptional.
But Harry’s tweets did get me thinking, what can we collectively do to be of more value to our audience: the media.
To start, I thought I’d list the 10 words which I think are the most overused in press releases – who knows, perhaps a bit of variety might a) make the copy produced more compelling and b) not bore the hell out of journalists who see hundreds of these things every day.
So, my nominations for the top 10 most over-used words in press releases are:
Delighted – it’s just not a real word, used by real people. If I won £45m in the lottery I’d be ‘over the f***ing moon’ not ‘delighted.’
Revealed – yep, I’ve used it, we all have, but imagine being on a newsdesk and seeing that in the opening paragraph of every second release that comes through about some research. I have no idea what the alternative is, but it’d be a revelation if it was used less.
Extraordinary – I felt bad about including this in my list because the ‘extraordinary’ is often a key factor in what makes news. However, its also incredibly rare so avoid using it unless it’s really appropriate.
Groundbreaking – truly groundbreaking news doesn’t need to be labelled as ‘groundbreaking’. If something is groundbreaking it should be obvious in your headline / opening paragraph and if it isn’t, then it ain’t groundbreaking.
Celebrate – ‘and to celebrate it’s 14th customer…’ – another one that seems to be used when there’s no other word that fits. Don’t get me wrong, it does have its place…but in the right place, at the right time!
Trend – my favourite. We often use ‘trend’ when we really mean ‘increase’ because we think ‘trend’ is more newsworthy. It is, but only when its a real trend. A trend is a direction, a movement of mass significance, not one day of slightly adjusted behaviour.
Leading – again, it comes back to appropriateness. If you are a leader in a field / discipline, go silly with it. But with ‘leading’ comes proof. If you don’t have proof, don’t use ‘leading.’
Welcomed – Another one doesn’t really say anything…but each to their own…
Launched – I know, the alternatives are limited, but imagine being a recipient and seeing this word 50 times a day…it’d drive you mad. (At this juncture I’d like to point out this post doesn’t offer much by way of solutions, that wouldn’t be fun!).
Innovative – almost sounds important, doesn’t it? But it’s another one of those words that doesn’t need to be used if the subject truly is innovative. It’ll be obvious.
Now, I’ll probably go write something today that features every single one of these words but at the very least, I’ll be conscious that I’m doing so.
Like any bad habit, the first step is admitting it!
If you have your own thoughts on which words are the most over-used, tap a comment into the box below.