What does that really mean?: Words to avoid in PR


20th September 2022


Leigh-Ann Hewer

Reading time

3 minutes

There are a lot of words and phrases businesses use internally that don’t work so well when it comes to PR. Writing for publication in the media is very different from writing for your business website or internal comms. While creative and enthusiastic language is often encouraged when it comes to writing for yourself, the media doesn’t always appreciate that kind of flowery language. In this blog, let’s discuss why this is the case and how you can ensure your language is fit for PR.

Words are precious

Think of it this way – journalists are writers. They’ve worked hard to hone their craft and in their profession words are precious. Every word has to serve a purpose – to ensure the piece has the desired effect on the reader, to maximise that effect within a very tight word count limit etc. Because of this, clarity is paramount. The problem with flowery language is that it’s often unclear. 

What does it mean really mean?

So, let’s get specific here. What unclear language am I referring to? 

Words and phrases like innovative, out-of-the-box, game changing and state-of-the-art sound great and all, but what do they really mean?

These are the kinds of words and phrase to avoid. 

It comes down to showing not telling; state-of-the-art how? Innovative how? It’s not that there are blanket bans on these words, simply that they have to be justifiably used.

The proof is in the pudding

Ultimately, if you’re going to use grandiose words and phrases then you better be able to solidly prove they are applicable.

This also applies to words and phrases such as best, biggest, first of its kind. These superlatives should only ever be used if you can definitively prove that they are true of what you’re saying. Journalists will do their research. If there is bigger, they’ll find it. If it’s been done before, they’ll find it. Don’t try and make a bold claim that you can’t back up. 

Keep it simple

The best way to ensure you’re being clear and concise is usually to keep it simple. Simple language is powerful when used correctly. If what you’re taking about is exciting, clarity is the best way to communicate it. If what you’re taking about needs to be made fuzzy to sound interesting, then it’s probably not a story the journalist will cover anyway. 

PR isn’t about adding big bold claims that can’t be backed up to sound impressive. PR is about finding the interesting part of every story. It’s a PRs job to dig through to the good stuff, and if a story truly isn’t newsworthy, it’s their job to be honest about that. 

Want to know more about maximising your chances of getting featured in the media? Our blog is packed full of information. Consider checking out or blog posts on how to write a good press release or things to avoid when pitching to journalists. PR Week also have a fantastic article covering 15 things you might have been told about journalists that aren’t actually true.