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

46 responses to “25 Most Overused Words and Phrases in Press Releases

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

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

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

  4. 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.

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

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

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

  8. 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.

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

  10. 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.

  11. 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.”

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

  13. 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.

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

  15. 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.

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

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

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

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


    “…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!…”

  20. 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.

  21. 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!

  22. the word “crisis” should be in there….economic crisis, financial crisis, environmental crisis, geopolitical crisis, climate crisis,….I mean really? Have your mid-life crisis and get over it already.

  23. I think concern should be at the top of the list. It is so over used by customer support in an attempt to down play a problem, issue, broken or damaged item, reporting of something bad that happened. A burnt out traffic light is a problem not a concern. A PC that will not turn on is a problem not a concern.

  24. U missed most important ones:
    “Earth Shattering”, “Shock & Awe”, “Disruptive”, “World Changing”, “Dynamic”, “Premier”, “Unveiled”, “Significant”, “Agile”, “Subversive”, “Laser Focused”, “Terrorist” (& terror related), “Paradigm Shift”, “Robust”, “Touch Point”, “Engagement”, “Turnkey”, “World’s leading” (or: World’s Leader as in company), “vapour ware”

    Words in this list that are currently outdated include:
    Unique, New, Proud to announce, leverage, improved, exciting, Best of breed, Cross platform, authentic, announced.

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