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Some call it semantics. Others, being particular. You might call it wordsmithing. I consider it one of the few (errrm. . .many) ‘little’ things that grate on my nerves. So what is this insipid little nudge? I’ll call them this PR pros favorite ‘four letter’ words.
They dominate press releases. Taint headlines. Muddy pitch waters. And, I would find it unimaginable, that they don’t leave reporters wondering what clown slapped these terms together on a piece of paper and dumped them into their Inboxes.
Allow me to break them down for you:
First: Many will find this laughable, but give this some thought. Who really was first – the patent holder or the inventor? Yes, someone has the right to brag about first rights. But, in the same token, the odds that the person claiming them really was the first are minute at best. So do me a favor – unless you are testifying, under oath and providing me with video footage and a corresponding statement of fact signed by a notary public, let’s keep that little prize called ‘first’ to yourself.
Impressive: How about letting the media decide whether or not they find it impressive? You can use accurate adjectives to boost the caliber of a description, but let’s not draw the conclusions for others. Besides, I can’t possibly be the only one who finds this term grossly overused and, consequently, of diluted value.
Flack: Call me entry level. Refer to me as ‘at the onset of my career.’ But let’s not use the five letters that sound all too similar to the derogatory medical gem, ‘quack.’ That’s right. This PR pro cringes at the word flack!
Best: Want to be the best? Buy an ad. The fluffier and fuzzier the release, the less newsworthy it seems. When you buy an ad, use whatever terms you want. In PR – let’s keep it factual.
While I could undoubtedly go on for pages, it’s safe to say that some words are better left unsaid. And while we’re at it, how about busting the myth that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? If everybody imitates each other’s positioning, all we have is a bunch of companies without a unique selling proposition.