The next time you attend a theatre performance, check the program to see how many of the performers are “thrilled” to be in the cast. Answer: most of ’em.
And now, take a look at your press releases. Is your solution “cost effective?” Is your client a “leading provider?” Is there “synergy” all over the place? If so, this blog post is for you.
David Meerman Scott, author of World Wide Rave, has conducted a content analysis of press releases, and has identified the top 25 Gobbledygook words and phrases from 2008.
Scott used Dow Jones Insight to analyze more than 700,000 press releases. In the pursuit of knowledge, he took a lot of flack, so to speak.
Our writing is not getting better. Like many other communication tasks, it has been deskilled, either by haste or economics. You know the drill: “just give me some verbiage for this panel.” Business moves fast. Writing is a slow process.
So here’s my plea: let writers do the writing. Not the executive secretary. Not the director of development. Not someone from IT. I marvel at how many computer geeks still write web copy, even today.
And let’s learn from our brethren at newspapers: bonus points if there’s an editor in the chain.
You can test your writing for cliches using Hubspot’s Gobbledygook Grader. Just paste your text into a window, and the service will email you with its analysis (I have not thoroughly evaluated this tool).
Write conversationally. Write copy that you would want to read. Treasure your audience.
And, as William Safire so eloquently put it, avoid cliches like the plague.