A popular Christmas song hails the winter holiday as “the most wonderful time of the year” but, I firmly disagree. I’d argue that blistering cold and fewer hours of daylight are in fact, not wonderful but rather dreary. I personally consider spring to be a far more superior time of year – the flowers are blooming, the temperatures are warm but not yet hot and people are ready to enjoy the outside.
Each year, as spring is sprung, I take some time to remove the clutter I’ve accumulated over the past year and reorganize and refocus the various facets of my life. It’s out with old and dusty to make way for the new and improved! This year, I vow not only to spring clean my wardrobe and home, but also to insert some freshness and vitality into my writing. A few ways I plan to spring clean my press releases for clients include:
1. Get rid of jargon. Becky Gaylord suggests jargon can typically be broken down into four categories:
• Nouns as verbs: ideate, incentivize, leverage, etc.
• Verbs as nouns: actionable, takeaway, deliverable, etc.
• Work that’s not done in an office: drill down, circle back, loop me in, etc.
• Nonsense: boil the ocean, drink from a fire hose, build the plane while flying it, etc.
Why not remove these clichés from our writing altogether and actually say what we mean? It’s sure to be challenging but will ensure that your audience understands exactly what you mean. This is just low-hanging fruit, right? Sorry, removing clichés is easier said than done!
2. Take that old, tired pitch and…pitch it. Think of a new way to pitch the story.
We had a client meeting recently where somebody said they wished we could just take all of our pitches and throw them away and simply start all over again. We all sat there for a moment and then somebody said, “Why can’t we?” Just because something’s been done or pitched a certain way in the past does not mean you have to keep doing it that way. At Hopkins PR, we’ve found the best way to take a fresh approach is to invite all of our staff to a brainstorming session where no idea gets turned down. We all have unique experiences and each one of us brings something different to the table. Some of our best and most creative ideas have come from these sessions.
3. Stop using words incorrectly. In the business of communications, we all want to be sure we’re communicating correctly, right? Even the smartest people sometimes use a word incorrectly or accidentally write accept when they really meant except. Some of the more common misused words, according to Oxford Dictionaries, include:
- Affect (to change to make a difference to) versus Effect (a result; to bring about a result)
- Flaunt (to display ostentatiously) versus Flout (to disregard a rule)
- Defuse (to make a situation less tense) versus Diffuse (to spread over a wide area)
For a list of commonly misused words, visit: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/words/commonly-confused-words.
While you’re throwing out the Members Only jacket and the banana hair clips from the 80’s (no, neither item is likely to make a comeback), why not throw out some of those bad habits when it comes to your writing?
We’re Talkin’ Texas, y’all,