Better than Great: A Cure for Buzzwords and Marketing Speak

Twice in the past year I’ve covered the most overused PR buzzwords and marketing speak and press release buzzword abuse. It is fun to point out the biggest offenders but even well-intentioned marketing communicators can find it difficult to avoid them.

Ready to stop being a “leading provider” of “unique,” “innovative” and “award winning” overused terms but need a solution? (Doh! “Solution” is an overused term too. But not in this context, so I get a pass.)

Better than Great - Arthur Plotnik

Enter Better than Great, Arthur Plotnik’s new book containing nearly 6,000 alternate terms for praise and acclaim. Arthur mentioned that he was working on it in the comments of my first buzzwords post and now that it’s been released I’m happy to say he achieved his aim and then some.

Better than Great covers a wide range of fresh superlatives in a number of categories, pulling from rare gems and vintage gold all the way through current phrases influenced by hip-hop.

To show the book in action while proving the point that portions of press releases do sometimes get picked up in media and blog coverage I’ll quote directly from the release that Associate Publisher Brenda Knight sent to me:

Better than Great is the must-have reference for anyone seeking to rise above tired superlatives when the quality of acclaim matters….Critics, copywriters, journalists, poets, speakers, sales reps, bloggers, Twitterers – word-slingers from the whole digital and literary spectrum – should find it to be a concussively brilliant, euphoriant, supernal, larky, trill, spikeable, epiphanic, über-cool, soul-juddering experience, an upful of endorphining jubilee to make the heart warble.”

While we probably need to call out the use of “must-have” that paragraph sure is jam-packed with non-overused terms. :)

Now admittedly the best antidote for marketing speak in press releases is to explain things simply in clear, direct terms and let the media professionals take it from there. So blending in some of Arthur’s fresh superlatives won’t always be the right approach.

But there are plenty of forms of marketing communications that could use of an injection of less-worn adjectives and even press releases can benefit from some of Arthur’s offerings in the right situation.

So for writers of all shapes and sizes Better than Great is indeed just that.

Note: The book is just $10 on Amazon right now. I’ll avoid the link so this post doesn’t get misinterpreted as a play for affiliate revenue, but go check it out.


  1. says

    Your review of BETTER THAN GREAT danced a tarantella on my psyche. Thank you so much for taking time with the book to define its merits and applications to your audience.

    Got me thinking — I agree that plain truth rules in press releases; but sometimes superlatives—which confer extreme values on what they modify—can be the currency of truth, even if metaphoric. If my product does something at “blistering” speed, as people think of that term, that seems more truthful than “fast” or even “2300/minute.” Hype? Maybe. But to me, hype is the song of the marketplace, and when sung well makes life a hell of a lot more interesting than the drone of words like “efficient” or “commendable.”

  2. says

    I think you’ve got a good point, Arthur. There’s a fine line between avoiding hype and being boring, or understating things to the point in which no one is compelled to investigate further.

    So specific to press releases, the PR professional needs to find that balance and know when (and what kind of) superlatives make sense in a given situation.

  3. says

    Admen are often among the worst offenders of marketing speak. I once started a file of ads with ” The key to…” in the headline. It was soon so fat, I stopped collecting them.

  4. says

    This is pretty interesting. I try to avoid using buzzword whenever possible. The phrase that is currently driving me insane is “if you will.” In my opinion, that is the adult version of using “like.” Pointless, meaningless, mindless. I have had fun recently playing “Bullshit Bingo” (sorry I did not make up the name) and I modified it for local government. Not that I stand up and scream bullshit when I win, but it makes for a more interesting, stress free meeting!

  5. says

    Thanks Sharon. “If you will” being a grown-up version of “like” is a good comparison!

    I’ve never used one of those buzzword bingo games in a real meeting, but seems like it would be fun.

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