The Top Misused Words in PR

Ragan’s PR Daily published a post yesterday listing their top 10 words often misused in press releases.

Their list:

  • Quality
  • Unique
  • Innovation
  • Official
  • Exclusive
  • Breaking
  • Never/ever
  • Revolutionary
  • Literally
  • Social
I’d have to agree with most of those. It feels like every new product that is launched claims to be “revolutionary” or “innovative”, and “social” is without doubt one of the most abused terms right now. No, adding a “share” button to your site doesn’t make your product “social.”
Why stop at ten words, though? Here are a couple more words that PR people seem to butcher on a daily basis:
  • Leading — It feels like every company claims to be the “leading” company in its industry. Most of the time the claim just isn’t true. Other times, they define their industry so narrowly that it’s accurate while still being meaningless. Once in a blue moon it’s realistic.I’m the leading red-haired digital PR guy sitting on my side of the Edelman Toronto office. It’s true. Also, no-one cares (sob).
  • Ultimate — This one’s a personal peeve. If your new product is the ultimate product for the market,  that means you’ll never need to release a follow-up, right? Oh, wait, you will? Guess it’s not so “ultimate” then. Sheesh.
What would you add to the list?

7 Responses toThe Top Misused Words in PR

  • Jesse Hollington
    ago9 years

    One that’s been bugging me lately is “highly anticipated.’  By whom, exactly?

  • Elaine Fogel
    ago9 years

    “New” is so overused, but it’s hard NOT to use it. There are limited synonyms in the English thesaurus. Maybe we should start writing in Klingon! 😉

  • Dynamic is one I’d add. I get tired of reading about dynamic solutions

  • Stephan
    ago9 years

    I admit it — I have used “leading”. It essentially means “not just an also-ran” / “we are important” — notice how companies often don’t say they are leaders but rather a leading company, not implying there is only one. You can also lead in many respects — technologically, in making money, hiring people, firing people, creating press releases… 

    To add a word or phrase, I’d go with “post”. Everything is “post-PC”, “post-Desktop”, “post-Facebook” etc. these days it seems.

  • When I’m leading clients through positioning sessions, I tell them to imagine that the word “solution” doesn’t exist. “Now,” I ask, “What do you do?” It’s never ceases to amaze me how far more specific and focused their answers become once I’ve taken that lazy and meaningless word out of circulation.

  • Laura Dennis
    ago9 years

    The English language has many words being constantly misused
    that force many individuals to the point of insanity. I am sure each person has
    their own little word that they feel is misused in every description of an
    event or a corporation. Contributing to the PR word usage game I would like to
    add these three words:


    – It is more than just a word, but rather a phrase that irritates me. I cannot stand when a friend or colleague
    blabs the phrase “technically speaking”. This seems like a way for an industry
    to mask the consumers’ demands and questions instead of giving them a straight
    up answer. It also appears that the person is very proud when saying
    technically speaking. It is almost as if they have the answer but they would
    rather give it to you one more time in a different way to further their
    brilliance. That could be harsh, but when a corporation messes up and is
    speaking to the media they seem to use that phrase too often. For instance, the
    media or even the consumer asks a corporation why a certain event happened and
    led to this outcome (insert crisis). Instead of being honest the corporation
    replies with, “technically speaking, the event became a crisis because….blah,
    blah, blah.”

    – This annoys me for the sole fact that everything can be forgotten. Just
    because you say it is unforgettable does not mean that it is the end all, be
    all. When it eventually becomes forgotten the industry will come up with
    another unforgettable extreme.