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Media Beat: December 20, 2019

A Discrimination of Words & Phrases (to Avoid)

Media Beat: December 20, 2019

By David Farrell

A Discrimination of Words & Phrases (to Avoid)

The balderdash, tripe and type splatter that are fast becoming standard practice in press releases need to stop.


Over the years I thought I had become inured to the spray-on mung heap of meaningless phrases, repetitions and blather masquerading as news handouts.

But I was wrong.

This year has seen a rapid uptick in press releases that are self-defeating as the actual ‘news’ finds itself buried by a torrent of nonsense littered with upper and lower case words decorated haphazardly with bold-facings and gridlock repetition.   

Phrases such as ‘first-ever’ and ‘highly anticipated’, along with a parade of words that include ‘iconic’ need to be binned, and the verbiage needs to be trimmed to make the message quickly identifiable

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The barrage of twaddle has reached the point where, on several occasions, I have been unable to glean what the sender is trying to say. In one case, I wrote the sender back and explained the same, to which the response was a re-send of the same unreadable press release. On two other occasions there was no response at all, from which I must assume the calamity of collusion at corporate head-office froze after having shuffled the demon back and forth with the result that too many wordsmiths had spoiled the message. Corporate speak and mindless twaddle need to be spiked.

The urgency of need in reinstating sense into these missives led me to reach out to friends and friends of friends on Facebook with the simple task of helping me to collate a long list of stultiloquence that can serve as a style-guide for PR types in 2020 and beyond.

With great respect for the respectful practitioners, and gratitude to those who contributed to the following lexicon of balderdash, babble and baloney I submit the following long-list with attributions. Not all of it makes perfect sense, but there is enough here to give a few corporate beagles cause for pause before emitting a blast of flatulence destined to land in my in-box.

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Brad Weir – Legendary

Ian J. Harvey - Back in the day we got a press release from Goodyear that had so much corporate verbiage in the lead and first couple of graft - ie Goodyear - an XXXX company XXXX blah blah blah - in conjunction with (string of other companies similarly over-described) that you had to read it twice to see what the F it was about. I think it was the fifth graph where it was really about a contest to get a ride in the blimp....seriously.....get to the point fast. The hook is what matters, the rest of it is just wanking.

Gene Valaitis - Unpack. Granular. Metrics designed to create a new paradigm. Bandwidth. Low hanging fruit. Move the needle. Thought leader. Serial entrepreneur. Circle the wagons again tomorrow. Action item. Square the circle. He’s an alpha pup. Arrows to fire. At the end of the day. Advertainment. He’s a disruptor. Inbound marketing wheelhouse. Sales lifecycle. And as you can see, I’ve been surrounded by this insane shit in the biz for years. Happy I could unpack it here and make it a little more granular for touchpoints in your article. Luckily, I had the bandwidth to execute this morning thanks to white knights.

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Al Mair – World tour

Kathryn Kates Casavant - Yep, Hamilton, Toronto and Buffalo!

Nick Krewen – Leading

Don Oates - "Best ever"...what does this say to the artist's past catalogue?

Kathryn Kates Casavant - Having worked in both PR and media in the music industry, I strongly believe a press release needs to be about the facts pertaining to the product the musician(s) produced, not full of superlatives. Let the person reviewing it compliment it if warranted. If it can't stand on its own merits, then perhaps the publicist needs a more talented client.

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Martin Melhuish - I reckon we have been in the end times of superlatives for quite a while now. When you go into a restaurant and order the house special and your server responds "awesome," where do you actually go from there when something of great significance happens in your life that's not comparable to a quarter chicken, white meat, with fries? Anyway, it sounds like a great idea for a feature... best ever!

Wayne Baggs – Groundbreaking

Vince Degiorgio – Don’t forget ‘epic’

Kathryn Kates Casavant - Extraordinary. Critically acclaimed-when it is a first album, and the first press release was sent out five minutes before.

Jerome Jarvis – How about the apologetic ‘one of the (greatest, most prolific, best Loved)’.

Tom Williams – Indie darlings, underrated, little appreciated, unknown.

Kelly Mulvey – Yes, I despise the word ‘drop’, as in so-and-so dropped his/her new book/album. Also, organic, angular and impossible. Add Pigeon hole too.

Janis Crabtree MacMillan - Oh my god. I found that back in the day. I'd wonder who was writing these. It was basically throwing a bunch of odd and elaborate words together. Drove me nuts.
Write like your reader has NO IDEA what you're talking about. This informs and educates. AND drink a bottle of wine while writing! Lol

Pat Blythe – I like the “drink” part. Gin for me (smiles).

Janis Crabtree MacMillan – Featuring the hit song…(with no single previously released).

Bruce Erskine – Perfect.

Jay Aymar – Whenever I read hyperbole, it always reminds me of the Bullshit Bingo game.

Richard Flohil – Jay, this doesn’t include “stakeholders…”

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Jay Aymar (to Richard Flohil) – It all brings back a terrible revelatory moment in my previous incarnation as a corporate weasel. The bullshit was flying with the bosses, and I called them on it. My five-year tenure was soon over.

Kevin Wynne – ‘First ever’.

Pat Blythe - I was taught the who, what, when, where, why and (sometimes) how should always be, at minimum, in the first two sentences of a press release. Honest, clear and concise. The hyperbole can wait until at least the third paragraph.

Leonard Kennedy – ‘Shit’.

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