I confess! I’m a geek. I read promotional materials, FAQs, website copy and more. I like to see how people write and couple words together for maximum effect and impact for their brand. Do they really say who they are or do they use buzz words? Alliteration is one of my favorite devices to use in writing… for those scratching their heads that’s when you put words together that start or end with the same letters. It makes an elegant effect.
Anyway… because I like reading various words and copy, I tend to notice words and phrases that are overused. One of my favorite pet peeves is the word… solution. Everyone has one… and apparently every company thinks we have a problem they can solve with theirs. For every person I tell about this phenomenon, they come back to me within days and say, “Wow. You were right. Everyone’s got a solution.”
I also don’t like words and phrases that are under delivered, which could go one of two ways.
1) You’re talking to yourself. Too many business owners write their own copy for letters, brochures and other promotional stuff. They end of writing in their own jargon… often customers and prospects don’t understand what they’re reading and why they should care.
Look around my website. It’s designed to make fun of the words the public relations profession uses. We talk about “pitching” the media. That means selling them a story idea. Not throwing a ball for them to hit. And yes, I do find myself using that word in client meetings. YIKES.
2) Your words represent the real company. There are many business owners who work hard to write their own promotional materials, but realize they don’t know what to say. So they make it up. Problem is when customers are asked if their statements are really true… they find out the truth– maybe not. The word use PR people use there… authentic. Is your brand authentic to your customer? On the flip side some business leaders are humble and don’t want to talk about their expertise and/or successes. It’s ok to talk about yourself.
So what’s the “solution” to these problems? If you’re a non-PR person reading this blog… it’s called messaging. Us PR people are great at helping companies through research methods to determine what’s real and what’s not. It’s so important to weave a real story and run it through every piece of communication the same way. It’s just like using your logo and company colors the same way and place on every piece of marketing material printed. It’s the words that help communicate your image as much as the graphic image. And that’s why I love words!