Public relations, as with any communications discipline, can be plagued by awful language.
Journalists and authors have editors to eliminate bad word choices, but unless we vigorously police ourselves, even the best PR practitioners can be guilty of using phrases we wish would disappear from the industry’s vocabulary.
These terrible PR phrases are five of the worst offenders:
1. Leverage. Don’t use this unless you are talking about an actual lever using a pivot action to physically move an object.
This tops the list of offenders because it breaks a cardinal rule of clear writing: Avoid using a more complicated word to express something when a simple word does the job better.
“Leverage” is an overblown—and not entirely correct—way of saying “use,” so why not just say “use?” Please don’t upgrade it to “utilize.”
2. Circle back. I’ve gotten enough feedback from journalists to know this phrase is irksome. What does it mean, anyway? It might be an attempt at glorifying the “follow up,” which often is a necessary tool for getting things done.