Creative Copywriter Tips – Get Less Passionate and Engaged

Or 5 words and phrases to use with caution

‘Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print,’ said George Orwell.

Oh, wouldn’t the world be a better place if we could all follow that one?

Here’s five I’m seeing too much of right now.

1) Passionate

‘At [insert company name here], we are passionate about…’

I’m not so sure. If you were really feeling the passion, you wouldn’t use ‘passionate’ on your About Us page. Passionate on corporate websites is such a knee-jerk, mechanical choice, it’s positively heartless. (Oh, the irony.) In my opinion, a creative copywriter will do everything in his or her power to avoid this one.

2) Committed

Where there’s passion on a company blog, commitment lurks nearby hoping to catch a bit of saucy cliché action. Like passionate, it’s an automatic, unthinking choice. And for that reason, it is about as committed as ‘Thanks for that, I’ll call you, yeah?’

3) Media Mix

One day the term didn’t even exist. The next, it’s cut and pasted across the media/PR/ agency internet with a speed that suggests being an unblended and unmixy media organisation is soooo embarrassing. It’s a great example of a phrase that had some currency for about three minutes before it went viral. In the rashy, sore throaty kind of way.

4) Whether you’re a… or a…

I’ve been there. Lost at 2.45 pm, a blood sugar fug overcoming me, I’ve grasped for the old stock ‘Whether…’ opener for that ad or advertorial. And I’ve felt like giving myself a damn good scrub down afterwards. These are dirty, dirty words picked out of bins and covered with bits of ketchup and fries. But I bet every creative copywriter has committed this sin at one time or another.

5) Engaged

I’m almost loathe to include this one, because a whole industry (one I often work in) defines itself with this term. But please, please, please – PR people, politicians, radio pundits, charity professionals, sports commentators, and, yes, internal comms people (note to self), can we all please think twice before we wheel out this bruised, abused, and broken expression… again.

I know, I know. It’s a handy word. It has to be used sometimes. But isn’t it the case that talking about engaging people again, and again, and again, and again, and again makes you look like the least engaged person in the room?

The War on Cliché (and various skirmishes with crapness)

There are so many more. I’ve probably used some in the blog post. And that is the point. We are all offenders. And in the war on cliché, every creative copywriter must be continually vigilant.

And why am I getting so, er… passionate and committed about this? Because effective writing – copywriting or otherwise – evokes emotion. And clichés are tired, spent words. Use them and people won’t feel anything (except perhaps boredom).

And they just aren’t going to buy what you’re selling.


2 piece of takeaway advice

So how do you avoid all those clichés?

1) Roll out the authors’ mantra of show don’t tell.

Don’t talk about your passion and commitment or whatever. Show it. And in your own words, too.

Before: ‘We are passionate about and committed to going above and beyond for our customers.’

After: ‘We regularly stay late to process clients’ last-minute orders, because we want to get your goods to you asap. And we want you to choose us again.’

2) Simply tell yourself ‘good enough is never good enough’.

You know when you’ve lazily rolled out that word or expression into the sentence because you can’t think of an original or better one. Highlight those tired expressions in your copy and dig a little deeper.


Martin Philp is a freelance copywriter who specialises in customer comms, internal comms, B2B and educational writing. See his copywriting services.


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