For PR professionals, the power of the written word knows no bounds, but if every word you write is predictable, regurgitated and brimming with buzzwords, the influential nature can soon be lost on your readership.
So, whether you’re a seasoned PR pro who knows the media landscape like the back of your notebook, or a recent graduate looking for your first job within the industry, it’s crucial that your communications – spanning press releases, features, emails, blogs, whitepapers and social content – are clear, concise and cliché-free. This is what will really make your content stand out from the congested inboxes of journalists and press offices nationwide.
So, here are some words and phrases, not to avoid, but to question the true meaning of, before using them in your writing.
- Reaching out
Most commonly found at the start of an email to a journalist or influencer, this is perhaps one of the most cringiest phrases to grace the comms landscape – and many of us are guilty of it! If you’re getting in touch with someone to enquire about a brand collaboration or media mention, it’s much better to launch into the juicy part of your story. With time of the essence in everyone’s working day, make your life – and theirs – easier by omitting the waffle.
- Think outside the box
If you’re looking for the most engaging approach to communicate that something is new and innovative, surely the best way to do so isn’t by using boilerplate phrases such as this one? Personally – from an idiomatic point of view – I do like this phrase, but it’s important to be mindful of its usage in any press relations, as ‘thinking outside the box’ is now so common, that it can ironically lose its original meaning if not used correctly.
In a world where new ideas, technologies and concepts are constantly changing, what is innovative in one breath could be old news in the next – especially in the realm of PR. If you do have a product that’s truly ground-breaking, it’s fine to use this word, but if what you’re writing about isn’t really the first of its kind, it’s best to be honest and include evidence where possible. Journalists and prospective-customers are smart and will make up their own minds.
- Good or great
We’re not saying that these words should never be used ever again, but as your school teacher probably used to say, it’s always better to use an adjective that gives more context and impact than ‘good’ or ‘great’ – they’re highly subjective terms which could mean anything in a press release or feature. If you recommend a book because it’s ‘good’, what does that mean? Why not substitute it with vocabulary that packs a bit more of a punch? Informative, laughter-inducing and unpredictable all convey a more lucid picture of the book’s genre and theme – clever!
Now, emojis aren’t actually words but they can be used to represent an array of phrases and emotions in their own right, so they make it on to the list! Context is key when it comes to using emojis, because in most cases of business correspondence, they’re not really relevant. When tweeting about coverage on social media or creating email subject lines, an emoji can a useful tool for zhooshing up a post – brand tone of voice dependent, of course. However, in an email pitch to a journalist, it may be a good idea to leave out the flamenco dancer!