A few weeks back, I posted a blog about over-used PR terms to avoid. Needless to say, that post generated lots of responses and even a clever email from an old colleague that tried to use all them in one friendly note to me. The list of pr terms to avoid seems to be endless. So many to choose from, so little time.

So, due to popular demand, here are seven more PR terms avoid – to debate, disagree with, eliminate from your online dictionary, but above all else, to please stop using. And as with my previous post, I too am guilty of using some of these terms and will take my own medicine. I also recognize that language is defined by common usage, so that even though some of these terms may not be allowed in the Queen’s English, dictionaries reflect how people actually use words, regardless of the Queen. Nevertheless, I am fighting a last stand to get these words out of the PR world, at least for now.

  • Leverage. This is a tricky one because as a noun, I think it’s perfectly fine. The problem is when it is so frequently used as a verb, its meaning becomes vague and just seems lazy.
  • Impact. I know I’m losing this battle, but the word “impact” is a noun, not a verb or a gerund (ending in “ing”), and certainly not “impactful.” That’s just removing whatever impact it had in the first place.
  • Their. As in, “Bluetext is a cutting-edge digital marketing agency – their work is amazing!” While the sentence may be accurate, it still doesn’t work. Agencies, companies and inanimate objects are “its”, not “theirs.” This is a pet peeve of mine, and I always correct this whenever I see it.
  • Unique, when preceded by “somewhat” or some similar modifier. The word “unique” is binary – something is either unique or it isn’t –  there is nothing in-between.
  • Disruptive. This is a big red flag in a PR pitch or press release. Unless when talking about a student’s behavior in kindergarten, let’s all agree that this is both over-used and not used correctly. We can only look backward to see if a new product or technology was in fact disruptive. Predicting this in advance is wishful thinking.
  • Authentic. I was once guilty of using this word far too often. The idea was that campaigns would resonate better with target audiences through content such as social media and blog posts if they were “authentic” as opposed to “artificial” in their voice.  In fact, everything we do for our clients should be authentic, and pointing this out just undermines its credibility.
  • State-of-the-Art. Doesn’t every client want to describe their product as “state-of-the-art”? Let the product speak for itself. The audience can decide whether it’s new and different or not.

Part 3 of PR terms to avoid will be forthcoming.

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