As any PR pro who has sat down to work on their umpteenth news release can tell you, when you write the same type of content long enough, the temptation to fall into bad habits increases. Especially as we rush to optimize our content for search engines and practice “newsjacking” to make the stories we tell stay prominent in local, regional and national news cycles, it’s all too easy to fall back on overused PR phrases that have been around for as long as the industry itself.
Here are three overused PR phrases, words, and misnomers to avoid in order to give your next news release or PR writing project a boost:
#1: “Excited to Announce”
If you took the time on your client’s behalf to draft, edit and get approval to send out a release, blog and/or social media post, everyone is going to assume they (and by “they,” I mean you) are excited to announce it. The same goes for words like “proud” and “happy.” Stating the obvious is well, obvious, so it can become an easy line to dismiss in your PR writing.
Instead of saying you are excited, consider showing why you are excited. For example:
- “The ABC company, after many months of research and development, is releasing its new product on xx date. This product will help resolve/fix/revolutionize …”
- “Family Fun Time, opened in 1994, invites you to experience …”
- “On Saturday, July 1, Time Co. will release its newest widget. This product, designed to enhance …”
Sometimes, even changing the order of your words in a sentence can help to better convey excitement. For example:
OLD: “We’re happy to announce our new chicken sandwich will debut Friday.”
NEW: “Presented with great pleasure – and taste – our new chicken sandwich, available at all locations starting Friday!”
OLD: “ABC Brands is proud to announce the debut of its latest tool, the claw wrench, available at stores nationwide.”
NEW: “Designed to resolve problems for left-handed plumbers, construction workers and every day handy people, ABC Brands new claw wrench is available online and in stores now.”
Even though you are using words, never forget the adage of “show, don’t tell.” Your words should show people why your product/service is one they must use or your event is one they must attend.
#2: Is It Really Unique?
“Being the only one,” “being without a like or equal,” or “able to be distinguished from all others of its class or type”; according to Merriam Webster, these are three acceptable definitions of the word unique. Thus, if your event, product or service is not one of these three things, be extremely cautious in labeling whatever you’re promoting as such. If everything is unique, nothing really is.
Instead of falling into the “unique” trap, work on describing the actual aspects of what makes your product, service, or event different from all the rest. Don’t overdo it on the adjectives or grandiose claims; simply state the facts with simple yet colorful descriptors.
Here are some examples:
OLD: “A unique flavor” (bland)
NEW: “Merging cherry, vanilla and – yes, even a hint of chocolate” (descriptive)
OLD: “A wine unique for the region” (generic and not informative)
NEW: “Grown and bottled only within a 50-mile stretch of the desert area just outside of Richland, Washington …”
Again, being descriptive isn’t just about using adjectives. It’s about using them to paint a picture in the reader’s mind so that what you write becomes alive and enticing.
#3: Be Intriguing, Not Mysterious
Many PR campaigns are built around generating awareness and getting audiences excited about something, and building anticipation can be a great way to do that. Notice, however, that there is a difference between building intrigue and being too mysterious.
This means if you send out a “coming soon” announcement, you have to give people enough information to answer at least four of the 5 Ws – who, what, when and where – while at the very least alluding to the “why.” Telling the media and/or public they “can’t miss” an event without some explanation of why they can’t miss it is a surefire way to get your pitch or press release ignored.
OLD: “All will be revealed at the event” (not enough to go on to decide to attend)
NEW: “Why are two of music’s most prominent artists coming to Kansas City for something that has nothing to do with music but everything to do with style and taste? You can find out in time for America’s birthday!” (Gives the reader hints not one but two prominent celebrities are coming, likely not for a concert but possibly something to do with fashion or food if not both tied to July 4th.)
OLD: “See that big red box downtown. Well, everyone will want to be at Fountain Square next Friday when it opens. But we can’t tell you why just yet!” (Not enough information for people to feel like they can’t miss the event.)
NEW: “What’s in the box? A big surprise that will kick off the biggest celebration of the city and a chance to change one family’s life. Just be sure to be at Fountain Square at 6 p.m. next Friday and ready to join the hunt for prize!” (This gives the reader a specific time and location and incentive; it is clear they can win something but not enough that details could leak and spoil the surprise.)
Are there any overused PR phrases that you’re working to eliminate? Tell us about them by tweeting @ScooterMedia!
Looking for other ways to power up your PR writing? Check out: