Fake news! Many press releases over-excitedly announce information that has no real news value – it is in effect fake news. No wonder journalists delete most releases. The takeaway for you: use better words than “excited” or “exciting” in your writing.
PR staff are often under pressure to energize ordinary announcements and other information by hyping up the text to gain executive or client approval.
However, those staffers usually haven’t dug further to find any real news behind their breathless announcement, or have just gone through the motions to satisfy their bosses or the marketing department.
I found an amazing total of 436 press releases using the adjective “excited” in body copy and puff quotes from just 4 days (10-13 July 2018) of releases published in Cision’s PR Newswire. If I had also searched for “exciting,” the number would certainly have jumped a lot higher.
From a news point of view, these announcements and quotes don’t achieve anything. They are clichéd, they are seldom true, and are self-serving. Readers want to know the WIIFM factor – “What’s In It For Me?” rather than some self-centered corporate waffle and jargon. So use better words than “excited” in your writing. Instead of telling readers how excited you are, why don’t you tell them something that makes them excited?
(Tips for writing press releases are discussed in other articles I have written in my website.
Here’s a sample of shockers from the period 9-12 July, with my emphasis in italics. The full extracts are shown at the end of this article.
This list of alternatives to the word “excited” is based on a list of 50 words published by Laura Hale Brockway on her website. She loves wordplay. I have edited out some of the words I think are not very relevant, and have put in some of my own. Not all of the words would suit excited announcements in media releases, but you can use them in other contexts as alternatives. Can you think of any more suitable words you could use?
If the list below doesn’t lead to a solution, you can consult online thesauruses such as thesaurus.com, the Merriam-Webster online thesaurus, the Collins Dictionary online thesaurus, or Lexico.com (formerly Oxford Dictionaries online thesaurus). Surely, a suitable, strong and energetic adjective will emerge for you to use from all this.
Coincidentally, Christopher Penn was also wondering about the extent of over-used terms of excitement, so he sampled 31,000 news releases published in Google News in 2019 and found 7 phrases are used frequently. The number of times each phrase was used out of the total news releases was:
None of these terms proved to create more resulting media coverage than any of the other terms.
Penn commented, “When you see phrases repeated over and over again, it’s usually the result of either committee group-think or templates. In many public relations departments and agencies, often the people who are writing basic content like press releases are more junior in their careers, and they rely on pre-defined templates to do their work, something that looks like this:
He also said:
It’s no surprise that an inoffensive phrase like “Company X is pleased to announce” makes it into so many press releases; I’d be willing to bet that it’s baked right into some of the document templates itself in the key announcement section. The downside of this lack of language diversity is obvious: releases that are boring, unengaging, and thus ignored.”
Penn maintains, and I agree, that such terms don’t come across as being genuine. I can’t imagine very many CEOs or senior spokespersons getting personally thrilled or excited by a new product – unless those products are a sensational breakthrough. It is more likely that only the people who have worked on that particular project might get that level of emotional engagement. So, we think it would be a more genuine reflection to seek quotes from those who worked on the project such as the project manager, engineer or creative designer. They are more likely to speak using their own type of language, which will create more engaging and authentic content.
Image: Edelman Trust Barometer 2021.
In addition, you may seek third party support through people who have used the product or service, or academic or company technical experts who know it well.
Another alternative is to work on achieving authentic comments from a spokesperson to use in a media release. For various reasons, the circumstances may not suit using a live interview or video snip, so you could just use a written quote by a spokesperson. My article on how to make your spokesperson’s quotes sound more authentic may help your thoughts on this.
And similarly, you may be interested in reading my article on using many other words as alternatives to the over-hyped word, “disaster.”
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