Archive for February 15th, 2007

Leading is a Throw-away

February 15, 2007

IT’S LAME: “Leading” as an adjective

I recently surveyed several hundred business publication editors about words and phrases I felt were overused. The word “leading” (as in “… a leading producer of …”) was voted one of the worst. 94% surveyed felt it was overused. One editor called the word an automatic “throw-away” when he sees it in a press release.

Sticking the word “leading” into the description of a company is so common and so rote, it is meaningless. Where are the “followers?” Given that everybody uses it, “leading” certainly doesn’t mean #1 or even #2.

If you want to impress your prospects, quantify your company’s achievements, or describe your position and your USP within your market, then back up your claim. But watch out for slipping superlatives in there just for the heck of it. (i.e. unparalleled, unsurpassed). More about this in future posts.

IT’S GAME: “Distinguish” (to compare)

“Distinguish.” Use it in a sentence that specifically differentiates your product or service from the competition. Doing this helps us stay away from using broad, unsubstantiated brag-and-boast statements about being the best.

Example: “The unique ‘color-all-the-way-through’ feature of Monarch composite decking and railing distinguishes it from other wood or composite products where scratches and gouges show through the surface coloring.”

We want to post your opinions. Please comment on our “lame” and “game” choices, or add others.


For more ideas on avoiding formulaic writing, read one of the better articles on writing powerful press releases, by Ann Wylie of Wylie Communications: Write a World-Class Release

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Welcome to Smith-Winchester’s Blog

February 15, 2007

Improving the vocabulary used in publicity is what this blog is all about. From press releases to advertising…even an occasional company mission statement.

Language is the blood and guts of business-to-business marketing communications. There are many examples of great writing and vocabulary used to describe complicated product offerings and value propositions…precise, colorful wording that sells. But we also see many abuses: lazy clichés and empty buzzwords, AdSpeak shoe-horned into editorial, and other offenses that inhibit the reader’s understanding and their desire to learn more. In many cases, repeated abuses are downright annoying to the intended audience (and to editors, to be sure). Bad writing can tarnish the brand.