Posted by Tom Gable
We entered 2010 with the banished words for the year from Lake Superior State University, an impressive list full of toxic assets that were shovel-ready for burial. To build on this fine start, we thought it would be instructive to offer a quick historical perspective on words most hated by the media in PR news releases.
Some words such as solutions must get dropped into news releases almost unconsciously, somewhat of a verbal tic. Lazy writers sprinkle their releases with jargon rather than striving to develop well-crafted, creative and compelling ideas that capture the personality of the company, its points of differentiation and the defining factors of its offering. Instead, they issue something that sounds like a majority of news releases going out over the wires each day. A test: redact the company name, send to colleagues in other markets and see if they can identify the company.
This first list of words to avoid is based on several surveys Gable PR conducted over the past decade among editors and writers at major national business, financial and trade media. Amazingly, the list remains pretty much the same as it did when first launched in 2000!
- Best-of-breed, customer-centric, cutting edge, end-to-end, excited, first mover, leading, leading edge, leading provider, mission critical, new paradigm, robust, seamless, solutions, state-of-the-art, thrilled, turnkey, world class.
David Meerman Scott, author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR, analyzed 711,123 press releases distributed during 2008 by North American companies and filtered for gobbledygook words.
- His favorites: 120 percent, commitment, focused on, innovate, leading provider, leverage, new and improved, partnership, pleased to, unique.
- The Scott list from 2007: cutting edge, easy to use, flexible, market leading, mission critical, next generation, robust, scalable, well positioned world class.
Inc. Magazine wrote about the words it unfriend last year. Check out their take on some of the words and else they could mean (ala brain dump).
- Actionable, authenticity, best of breed, brain dump, co-opetition, disintermediate, mindshare, offline, outside the box, proactive, repurpose, solution, synergy, value-add.
Bottom line: be precise, intelligent and creative in telling your stories. This can be hard work. Avoid the temptation to simply drop in a few words that sound good but like blank tiles in Scrabble, have no meaning – a great line from the classic book, Cluetrain Manifesto, which is must reading for anyone interested in joining the battle against jargon.