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The Essential Word List for Lazy PR Writers

Media and PR gurus, news organizations, universities, social media sites and others are honing their annual reports on words most hated by the media in PR news releases and words that should be banned in 2012. Rather than wait, we compiled the following list from many sources including Inc., David Meerman Scott, Ragan, Lake Superior State University and others.

Sadly, some of the profession needs to be put into the slow class since the same words keep showing up (and have since 1999!). The list is in alphabetical order. The words receiving the most mentions over the years are in bold for easy reference. As noted here before, some words such as solutions and leading provider get dropped into news releases unconsciously, somewhat of a verbal tic. Lazy writers tend to rely on industry jargon and hackneyed phrases rather than striving to characterize a company, organization or individual in new ways that go beyond the ordinary.

During a Media Relations Summit several years ago in New York City, a panel of editors from The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s and other publications noted that many releases from companies in the same industry have a sad sameness to the language. They suggested that they could take many news releases and pitches received and do a global search-and-replace of one company’s name with that of a competitor and no one would know the difference. Whew.

How to avoid sounding alike? Think solid differentiation and positioning and compelling ideas. Then, run a search for the following words for deletion:

  • best-of-breed
  • customer-centric
  • cutting edge
  • end-to-end
  • epic
  • excited
  • first mover
  • flexible
  • innovate
  • leader
  • leading
  • leading edge
  • leading provider
  • leverage
  • market leading
  • mission critical
  • new and improved
  • new paradigm
  • next generation
  • outside the box
  • robust
  • scalable
  • seamless
  • solutions
  • state-of-the-art
  • synergy
  • thrilled
  • turnkey
  • unique
  • value-add
  • well-positioned
  • world class
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