Do you use the term “solutions” in your press releases? Be honest. It’s one of those words that seem to describe almost anything. It’s also a crutch that can cost PR pros and communicators dearly when trying to get their media pitches into the right hands.
Many a dead horse has been beaten because of the need for PR pros to produce jargon-free press releases. But the problem persists, as some communicators continue to build a monument to superlatives—and sabotage their efforts to get the message out.
Sure, old habits die hard. But in a hypercompetitive marketplace, with journalists tasked with doing more with less, PR pros can no longer afford to use words in their press releases that only alienate reporters and editors.
With that in mind, here are 10 words to avoid in your press releases, and why, compliments of Reg Rowe, founder of GrayHairPR.
1. Solutions. Without a doubt, the most overused word in news release headlines, copy and corporate boilerplate. Every company has a “synergistic, cutting-edge, value-added, outside-the-box, industry-leading, innovative, disruptive, world class, revolutionary solution to (fill in the blank).”
2. Synergy. The word means the combined entity is greater than the sum of its parts. In the corporate world, it most often refers to mergers. I can’t remember many mergers where "synergy" would describe the merged company.
3. Bleeding edge/Cutting edge. How many companies or products truly can claim such a lofty position? It’s getting pretty crowded out there on the edge.
4. Value-added. Shouldn’t the value you bring to your clients be intrinsic? Why are you adding it?
5. Outside the box. Where are all the boxes from which every company has escaped?
6. Industry-leading/Leader. Judging by the use of these phrases, every company distributing a news release today is a leader. How is the company judging leadership? International, national, regional, local? Technology, revenue, profit, number of employees, offices? If everybody is leading, who’s following?
7. Innovative. Even companies or products that win awards for innovation are rarely innovative.
8. Disruptive. Quick, name five disruptive products released in the past year. Sorry, time’s up. But judging from news releases, there are hundreds. Remember, disruption takes a long time.
9. World class. Most often found in corporate boilerplate, the phrase “world class” has no real meaning. Whom are you measuring against? St. Kitts & Nevis or China? And no one ever says American class or Canadian class. Don’t use it.
10. Revolutionary. One definition is “constituting or bringing about a major or fundamental change.” Along with innovative and disruptive, it is highly unlikely your new product is truly revolutionary. It’s just the kind of hyperbole you should avoid.
What words would you add to the list?
Follow Matthew Schwartz on Twitter: @mpsjourno1