Avoid Jargon and Clichés in Your PR Writing

typewriter-resizeCommunicators can easily spot clichés in other peoples’ writing, but are you aware when you are doing it yourself? Are you unintentionally clouding your content with technical jargon that   may sound impressive in-house but ultimately turns away journalists and customers?

Fewer things will kill your message quicker than the use of worn-out or obscure language. At PR News’ Writing Boot Camp in San Francisco on Tuesday, Doreen Jarman, PR manager at Tableau Software, and Matt Flegal, senior manager of communications at Trulia, shared some rules for solid writing, as well as some habits to avoid.

  • Keep sentences short. Don’t use 30 words when 10 will do. Be spare with your words and merciless when trimming them.
  • Avoid words with no business value. Delighted, thrilled, pleased¾these are examples of words that explain an emotional state that will more than likely be irrelevant to the message you want to share.
  • Avoid industry jargon, buzzwords or acronyms. If the word or phrase cannot be plainly understood in context without being defined, then it is too complicated. If you have to use acronyms, use them sparingly and always define them at the first mention.
  • Imagine your audience as a regular person. Keep it simple, even when explaining more complex concepts about how things work. How would you explain a new software platform to your mom?
  • Don’t be afraid to push back. Clients, executives and the legal department may want to see the wordy messaging because they think it adds value. Distill their words into simpler text, and then show them the difference between the two.

Follow Doreen Jarman: @tableau

Follow Matt Flegal: @mattf20, @Trulia

Follow Richard Brownell: @RickBrownell