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.

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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.

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Want some better words for 2013? Engage SHIFT today.

Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology

Posted on December 19, 2012 in Press Release

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About the Author

Christopher S. Penn has been featured as a recognized authority in many books, publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times, BusinessWeek and US News & World Report, and television networks such as PBS, CNN, CNBC, Fox News, and ABC News for his leadership in new media and marketing. In 2012 and again in 2013, Forbes Magazine recognized him as one of the top 50 most influential people in social media and digital marketing; Marketo Corporation named him a Marketing Illuminator, and PR News nominated him as Social Media Person of the Year. Mr. Penn is the Vice President of Marketing Technology at SHIFT Communications, a public relations firm, as well as co-founder of the groundbreaking PodCamp New Media Community Conference, and co-host of the Marketing Over Coffee marketing podcast. He is an adjunct professor of Internet marketing and the lead subject matter expert and professor of Advanced Social Media at the University of San Francisco. He’s the author of the best-selling book Marketing White Belt: Basics for the Digital Marketer.

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.

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