January 2, 2013

Have You Un-Sucked Your Writing Lately?

We've all experienced that dreaded feeling of being obligated to use 'buzzwords,’ overused phrases and jargon in our writing. The term "For lack of a better word" may actually be a good thing when it comes to public relations writing. Let's face it, in the PR field we struggle to deliver a message to the public that is clear and unambiguous; a message that gets the point across and engages the public through expressive writing. The problem many of us face is how to remain creative without losing the public's interest in the organization's message no matter how complicated it may be. Simplifying the words we use does not equate to a loss of creativity but rather a broader, more comprehensible message for our audience.
Luckily, there is a tool to help those who wander in the purgatory of "fluff" words and terms. It's called UnSuck-It.com, and it may be the second best PR writing tool next to your AP Style handbook of course! Unsuck-it is a website that allows you to submit, search, define and sometimes laugh at the hundreds of examples of bad, over complicated business and communication jargon people use while identifying a better word or phrase to use. Some popular examples of over-used words the site lists along with their easier counterparts are: "Pre-Plan" or just plan, "Eyeballs" or viewers and "facilitate" or help. The site will help you and at the same time give you a good laugh with its sarcastic definitions and cynicism of media and culture today. As PR-squared.com sarcastically says in regards to the site's use - If only we could convince clients that all press releases needed to be “run through the Unsuck It filter” (read: “written in plain English”) before sending them to the wire services. Let’s work on that."
Simply stated simpler is better but often more difficult. The irony of the difficulty of finding a simpler word to use will be over once you give Unsuck-it.com a try. The word base is always growing on the site so user submissions are definitely encouraged. Remember the K.I.S.S. method folks: Keep It Simple and Short!

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