19 Dec 2012

The Top 50 Most Overused Words in Press Releases for 2012

There are some words that initially sound good when you write them. They’re words that make you sound bigger, faster, smarter, or more appealing to your customers, prospects, and audience. Unfortunately, everyone else has exactly the same idea in mind and as a result, we end up with tired words, words that are overused, and no place is this more common than in the press release. In partnership with Marketwire, SHIFT Communications sampled 5,000 press releases from 2012 to find the most overused words. Take a look and share the graphic with your fellow communications professionals so we can start to use different words next year.

Click here for a full size PDF

Note that just because a word is on this list doesn’t mean shouldn’t ever use it, just use it more sparingly. Just as you don’t need to dump 5 pounds of garlic on a plate of spaghetti, not every press release has to be about your leading solutions and forward-thinking global company that’s well positioned for growth and performance.

Want the full size version? Download the PDF here! If you’d like to display this on your site, please just credit SHIFT and link back here.

Want some better words for 2013? Engage SHIFT today.

Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology

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You should always aim for clarity and freshness in your writing, but that doesn't mean you need to avoid "overused" words -- many of the words in the infographic are not overused; they're just very useful. In fact, a problem in a lot of writing is striving for new ways to express a familiar idea -- at the expense of directness and brevity. The problem with your example -- "your leading solutions and forward-thinking global company that’s well positioned for growth and performance" is not the words themselves but that together they become empty jargon, expressing nothing original.


To my thinking, "Don't use these words" and "Always use these words" rules are not as helpful as simply aiming to always use the perfect word. Sometimes it'll be an unusual word, and sometimes it'll be an "overused" one.