I’m no “Mr. Language Person,” so I have zero authority to lay down rules. But if I could wave a magic wand and make words vanish from the dictionary, I have a few in mind.
Seven, to be exact.
George Carlin’s famous bit was “The Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television.” (Track No. 3 on the album Class Clown, circa 1972.) With a tip of the hat to Carlin and for the benefit of government news-release writers and readers everywhere, I humbly present …
7 Words You Can Never Say in a News Release
“Utilize” is Public Enemy No. 1, in my opinion. Cut it from your vocabulary, and the world is a better place. I can’t think of a single reason to utilize it.
Another govie favorite. Applied in any sentence, this word facilitates the certain knowledge that the writer is a blowhard.
Five syllables that would require a sip in the Harold Washington Drinking Game. (Remember to chug on “juxtaposition.”)
As in, “We are currently in the process of implementing our utilization plan.” Fire this lazy time reference, and let the verb tense do its job.
Use “about.” Avoid “approximately 10 to 15 …” (Provide the range or add the qualifier, but don’t do both.)
Tribune-speak and marketing jargon for “Chicago area.” While this one is region-specific, I’m sure govies across America have to deal with similar abominations.
I blame the “drive-thru” signs at fast-food restaurants for proliferating this sawed-off testimony to illiteracy. Don’t let that four-letter word get thru your defenses and into your news release.
The sad truth is busloads of govies are frequenting the Trendy Lexicon Drive-Thru, and far too many (sob) are buying donuts.
Coming next week: Leads That Succeed
Read the ‘Journalism.Gov’ Series
- Week 1: Introducing the Revolutionary Concept of Journalism.Gov
- Week 2: Aggregation for Good’ — 5 Secrets Govies Can Learn From Patch
- Week 3: How to ‘Think Like a Reader’
- Week 4: 5 Writing Books Every Govie Should Read
- Week 5: The Argument for Using AP Style
- Week 6: How to Get Your Stuff Posted in Mainstream Media (Part 1)
- Week 7: How to Get Your Stuff Posted in Mainstream Media (Part 2)
- This Week: The 7 Words You Should Never Say in a News Release
- Next Week: Leads That Succeed