I frequently edit press releases from all sorts of companies. And they have no idea I’m doing it.
I’m not acting as an independent copy editor for them, helping polish their content before they release it. Rather, I’m picking apart the releases they send me as the editor of an online magazine. Their press releases are riddled with buzzwords that are either so ridiculous or so grossly misused that the copy practically screams, “We have no idea what we’re talking about!”
Don’t fall into the same trap. Don’t make me redline your copy and post a photo of it on my favorite Facebook group, Editors Who Need Editing. (Yes, it exists, and yes, my fellow editors and writers ridicule poor grammar, typos, and more there.) Here are five words to absolutely, positively avoid in your marketing materials.
Curate. I don’t care how special your services are. Unless you’re putting together a museum collection or an art exhibition, you did not curate it. You organized it, you oversaw it, you arranged it, or you assembled it—that’s all.
Bespoke. Several luxury companies have fallen in love with this word. They’ve decided that “custom” just doesn’t cut it anymore, seemingly because a bunch of less-luxurious companies began making customization claims. Rather than differentiate themselves by emphasizing how elevated their services truly are, however, they ceded the proverbial throne to lesser competitors. Considering Samsung is using this word for one of its refrigerators (seriously, Google it), you know it’s time to retake the castle.
Very unique. These two words never, ever go together. Neither do “most” and “unique.” “Unique” is an absolute term. Saying “very unique” or “most unique” is like saying a woman is “very pregnant” or worse, “most pregnant.” Either she is carrying a baby or isn’t. The same goes for unique. Besides, more often than not, what a company claims is unique is anything but.
Innovative. This ranks right up there with “unique,” because here, too, typically what a company claims is innovative is anything but. To quote one of my favorite yacht designers, “The shape of a window is not innovative.” It’s just different.