25 Most Overused Words and Phrases in Press Releases


One word can best describe “new,” “unique,” “innovative” and the other 22 words and phrases on the list below: predictable.

These words and phrases pop up so much that they tend to lose their value and meaning. By using “cutting-edge” or “groundbreaking” in press releases or other copy when a product is neither, you are doing a disservice to yourself and to the product or service you are promoting.

Holly Arthur, assistant VP, media and public relations at the Association of American Railroads, recommends sticking to the facts and skipping the hype. “The key is to remember that a press release is only as good as the facts presented and news value they represent,” she says.

Avoiding stale, overused words and phrases in press releases and other copy will remain a perpetual challenge for PR pros. Staci Perkins, director of marketing and communications at the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption (and also a speaker at PR News' Aug. 9 Big 3 Conference), says that lately she has been focusing more on her writing style. “Even with our subject matter—foster care adoption, child welfare, policy updates and so on—there’s a way to write without sounding stale, and a way to tell a compelling story from the heart, without those overused press release words and phrases,” Perkins says.

Here are the 25 words and phrases the PR News staff and our community have deemed to be overused to the point of being almost meaningless. Keep in mind, the point is not to avoid these words entirely, but to use them with discretion or find case-specific substitutes. As Arthur says, these words have become overused because “they are so effective in quickly setting the tone or context for the information being conveyed in a release.”

  1. Announced 

  2. Authentic

  3. Award-winning 

  4. Best of breed

  5. Cross platform

  6. Cutting edge

  7. Exciting

  8. Exclusive 

  9. Groundbreaking

  10. Impact

  11. Improved

  12. Innovative

  13. Launched

  14. Leader/leading

  15. Leverage

  16. Next generation

  17. New

  18. Proactive

  19. Proud to announce

  20. Revolutionary

  21. Solution

  22. State of the art 

  23. Unprecedented

  24. Up and coming

  25. Unique

Follow Danielle Aveta: @DanielleAveta





42 Comments

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  • Moonlight London

    You didn’t mention step-change, tipping point, synergistic, paradigm shift or game-changer.

  • David Anderson

    And my pet hate… going forward.

  • adam

    what about topline

  • The Prez

    so where are the suggestions for the 25 words or phrases that should take the place of these 25 overused words?

  • david shank

    the most overused term in this piece is “press releases.” Antiquated and doesn’t reflect modern media.

  • Ford Kanzler

    After everyone has hopefully eliminated these sorts of words from releases, you can still have fun in meetings with this game: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buzzword_bingo

  • KM

    My own favorite … :highly acclaimed.”

  • @nutritionistw1

    Going forward I predict game changing scrabble tournament

  • Mr. Webster

    You forgot poppycock, perhaps because that’s what this article is. Some phrases are overused but any sensible journalist should be able to sniff it out in the first couple of sentences. Go ahead and find 25 more like words and the reporter won’t be able to write a story. Maybe that’s the direction she was looking to take all along.

  • Lisa M

    Also, ‘advanced,’ ‘industry-best,’ and ‘leading-edge.’

  • nureen

    The critique is wonderful but how about some suggestions for replacement words or must we all run for our trusty
    Thesauruses?

  • Jacquelyn Lynn

    How about best in class

  • Peggy Elliott

    Can we just do away with the word “utilize” altogether? That’s one more for the list.

  • Von in VA

    * end-to-end solution
    * win-win

  • Susan Lewin

    Visionary.,. Seems lots of executives think they are visionies these days

  • devin

    It happens too in China,hehe

  • Judy Colbert

    Claiming to be first or only is dangerous, particularly when almost everything can be researched online. At least modify it, first in the town of XYZ or the only one to be open at midnight on Sunday.

  • Tom Madden

    I would absolutely add absolutely

  • Cindy Gibson

    This one makes me grit my teeth, at the end of the day.

  • Brenda Sotern

    how about ‘global-minded?’

  • Pat Ross

    next generation (or nextgen if you’re really hip)

  • Darrell

    Might want to include “turnkey”

  • adrienne vaughan

    actually, I think actually should be there because it actually adds nothing, in actual fact!

  • Davina K. Brewer

    As I always do w/ these lists, see also the hilarious site Unsuckit. And of course, it’s not the words that are bad, it’s when they’re used to bulk up meaningless fluff that’s not news. FWIW.

  • Bruce Apar

    For a sequel to this, I nominate “25 Most Misused Words,” which list includes unique, which is an absolute, not a comparative. No such thing as “very unique” or “more unique” since the word means “one of a kind.”

  • @Hlthtourismjedi

    Finish the story! Suggest which words to use instead.

  • John Jeppesen

    What? No “issues,” “initiatives,” “reaching out” or drilling down?”

  • Barbara Manrow

    Another word that is misused by the media is “troops”. A troop is a group of people, which is more than 1-2 individuals. Yet CNN misused the word this morning to refer to some of the people who were injured in the Denver shooting – 2 naval troops and 2 army troops. Since there were a limited number of people injured and killed, there could not have been four troops injured because that would have been greater than the total number of victims. CNN should have said that two seaman and two soldiers were listed among the victims in the shooting – not two navy troops and two army troops in the broadcast.

  • Aileen Roberta Schle

    out-of-the-box strategies; precedent-setting; world class; but they are hard to ignore!

  • Eydie Stumpf

    So, if the words are “so effective in quickly setting the tone or context for the information being conveyed in a release.” why shouldn’t we use them? And what would the alternatives be? Sometimes, lists about what not to do are over-written.

  • SplendidlySaid

    And don’t ever call someone or have a simple discussion. You have to “reach out.”

  • cube dweller

    Having said that, with that being said . . .

  • CRMonscierge

    Anyone find the “To Use” alternatives for each of these yet?

  • David wvans

    Mission. Vision , core values – at this point in time.

  • Mary

    I don’t even know what half of those words mean. Cross platform? And I’ve never figured out what turnkey really means.

  • Lizzie

    “World-class”: often misused and over-used.

  • MonsterBeGood

    How about the reverse of this – some of the lesser-used words or phrases in press releases?

    “…mammal-friendly…”

    “…contains only necessary hazardous chemicals…”

    “…still Anthrax-free…”

    “…fewer roach parts per cubic centimeter than the leading brand…”

    “…meets most state and federal standards for acceptable levels of radioactivity…”

    “…possums love it!…”

  • Scott

    Robust!…..hate it

  • c.bullard

    Issues a very annoying word for problem or concern

  • David

    As a career newspaper reporter who now writes press releases,I think the single most important antidote to the above list is having direct access to real facts. Any reporter will skip right over adjectives like those above in search of something concrete. “Show don’t tell” is still the best approach.

  • Rhoda Gelman

    As a Universal Certified Astrologer for many years, with a background in PR & Communications, I have always believed in building a relationship with our client’s and communicating with sincere passion and provide new and universal ideas and concept. Vision Shines!

  • SAD FALSE SMILES

    You could also do also, like, and the ever famous. (…)