overused words in press releases

12 Days of Data 2022 Day 7: Most (Over)used Words in Press Releases

Introduction

Welcome to the 12 Days of Data 2022 Edition, our look back at the data that made marketing in 2022. We’re looking at the year that was (and oh, what a year it was, something we’ve been saying for three years straight now…) from an analytics perspective to see what insights we can take into the next year. Sit up, get your coffee ready, and let’s celebrate some data and look forward to the year ahead.

[12days2022]

Most Overused Words in Press Releases

On the seventh day of the 12 Days of Data, we dig into the language of the press release, or news release. Press releases are not necessarily known for being award-winning pieces of prose, and analyzing the language used in them helps us to understand how companies talk about themselves.

One of our favorite exercises from years past was to look at words in news releases that tended to be used a little too much, from old corporate stand-bys like “synergy” to the rash of expressions like how excited or proud or pleased we are about some piece of news.

Why do these terms matter? Because an awful lot of the time, when words and phrases are used by everyone, they lose distinctiveness. We end up sounding like every other brand or company. Thus, to sound a little different, we should be using different words.

Let’s take a look at the most used words of 2022. Using the GDELT database from Google along with our own technology, we extracted the text from 88,257 press releases issued this year. Let’s first look at the parts of speech:

Press Release Parts of Speech

Unsurprisingly, nouns and verbs make up the bulk of the copy. However, the part of speech we tend to care about when we’re talking about overused words are the adjectives:

Top adjectives in press releases

Our top 10?

  1. Global
  2. Forward
  3. Searching
  4. Leading
  5. Financial
  6. Digital
  7. International
  8. United
  9. National
  10. Social

Global by far wins the adjecive usage award.

Look at searching and leading. Adjectives that end in -ing tend to be descriptors of the thing they’re modifying. A company is a company, but a leading company leads. What do our -ing adjectives look like for 2022 press releases?

2022 Ing Adjectives

Our top 10 here:

  1. Searching
  2. Leading
  3. Growing
  4. Increasing
  5. Supporting
  6. Driving
  7. Managing
  8. Consulting
  9. Living
  10. Ongoing

Searching and leading head the pack by a considerable margin.

Now, let’s dig into some of the buzzwords businesses most often use, words that don’t tend to mean a whole lot:

Buzzwords

Our top words here:

  1. Market
  2. Business
  3. Industry
  4. First
  5. Solutions
  6. Leading
  7. Service
  8. Future
  9. Experience
  10. Platform

Key Takeaway

As our colleague Jay Baer says, “Same is lame.” When you say, “We are the first global solutions-oriented partner focus on increasing innovation as the largest, best leading platform for supporting customer experience now and in the future”, you’re not really saying anything – at least not anything that can’t also be claimed by a thousand other companies.

Presumably, if you’re publishing a news release, you have actual news. There’s nothing new at all in these overused words, and using them diminishes any perception of newness about your announcement. Instead, your news comes across as an also-ran, a competitor, perhaps even a knock-off or copycat.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Two reasons. First, while such language is incredibly repetitive, it’s also perceived as safe. No one will object to phrases like leading and strategic, nor will anyone find objection in discussing industry-leading services or your future-proof platform. Compare that with a brand taking controversial points of view and perspective; the trite jargon is seen as the ultimate safe choice (even if it causes an audience to immediately ignore you).

Second, many companies, especially larger ones, employ consultants and agencies to handle media relations. Anyone who’s worked for any significant period of time at a public relations agency knows that tasks like press release writing are typically delegated to the most junior, lowest-paid staff members who copy and paste from templates or previous releases to save time – or just hand it to an AI to draft.

Take a look at this fake news release we generated with OpenAI:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Trust Insights Launches Natural Intelligence™, the World’s First Carbon-Neutral Platform of Its Kind

Boston, MA – October 18, 2020 – Trust Insights, the Boston-based management consulting firm founded in 2017, is proud to announce the launch of its new platform, Natural Intelligence™. Natural Intelligence™ is the first ever carbon-neutral platform of its kind, with a 86 billion parameter neural network capable of advanced decisioning.

“We are proud to introduce Natural Intelligence™ to the world,” said Katie Robbert, CEO of Trust Insights. “This platform has been years in the making and it is a testament to our team’s commitment to innovation and sustainability. Natural Intelligence™ is the largest platform of its kind, and we believe it will revolutionize the way businesses and organizations use data to make decisions.”

Christopher Penn, Chief Data Scientist of Trust Insights, added, “Natural Intelligence™ is a platform that is designed to make data-driven decisions easier, faster, and more accurate. By leveraging the power of intelligence, Natural Intelligence™ can process huge amounts of data and make decisions in a fraction of the time it would take a human.”

Natural Intelligence™ has been designed with sustainability in mind, and is the first carbon-neutral platform of its kind. The platform was built using a combination of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency initiatives, making it a more environmentally friendly option than traditional data analysis platforms.

Trust Insights is committed to helping businesses and organizations make more informed decisions with data, and Natural Intelligence™ is a powerful tool to help them do just that. With the launch of Natural Intelligence™, Trust Insights is taking a major step forward in the field of data-driven decision making.

For more information on Natural Intelligence™, please contact [email protected] or visit trustinsights.ai.

###

About Trust Insights

Trust Insights is a Boston-based management consulting firm founded in 2017. The company is led by CEO Katie Robbert and Chief Data Scientist Christopher Penn, and specializes in helping businesses and organizations make better decisions with data.

Feel how your eyes just sort of glide off that press release without retaining anything? Because AI is trained on existing news releases, what ends up happening is it creates even more of the same. Same language, same familiar terms… nothing that sets this news apart from any other announcement.

The net effect is that every release sounds like boilerplate because it’s all sourced from the same boilerplate language, with only the company name and CEO quotes changed from release to release.

What’s the solution? Better writing. At the very least, consider using a free service like Related Words to try finding synonyms for the most frequent offenders, like the top 10 lists above. Ideally, create something so remarkable, so newsworthy that customers do the talking for you, and then you’re not using jargon, but real words from real people. Even if some of the words are familiar, you’ll know you’re using words that will resonate with your specific audience.

Methodology

Trust Insights used Google’s GDELT news service to extract 295,773 news releases published in 2022. From this corpus, we randomly sampled 88,257 releases due to computational constraints. The timeframe of the study is January 1, 2022 to December 5, 2022. The date of extraction is December 7, 2022. Trust Insights is the sole sponsor of the study and neither gave nor received compensation for data used, beyond applicable service fees to software vendors, and declares no competing interests.

Disclaimer: Natural Intelligence is a bit of a tongue-in-cheek joke. The average human brain has 86 billion brain cells in it, so Natural Intelligence refers to… you and I.

[12days2022]


Need help with your marketing AI and analytics?

You might also enjoy:

Get unique data, analysis, and perspectives on analytics, insights, machine learning, marketing, and AI in the weekly Trust Insights newsletter, INBOX INSIGHTS. Subscribe now for free; new issues every Wednesday!

Click here to subscribe now »

Want to learn more about data, analytics, and insights? Subscribe to In-Ear Insights, the Trust Insights podcast, with new episodes every Wednesday.

One thought on “12 Days of Data 2022 Day 7: Most (Over)used Words in Press Releases

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This