The Public Relations BlogCreativityStorytelling & WritingNever Use the Word 'Unique' in Your PR writing

Never Use the Word ‘Unique’ in Your PR writing

Don't tell the world about your uniqueness — show them.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

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Please nev­er use the word “unique” in PR.

Marketing- and PR jar­gon might not be the worst thing in the world but, as far as I’m con­cerned, it’s up there. Corporate plat­it­udes equal cor­por­ate cringe which equals bad PR.

However, many PR pro­fes­sion­als, who hon­estly should know bet­ter, still cling to the word “unique” — even to the point of fiercely defend­ing its use.

Why is “unique” such a despic­able word to put in your PR copy?

The typ­ic­al use case describes some­thing as unique when it isn’t. You might state that the first gen­er­a­tion iPhone was a fant­ast­ic product, but it was­n’t. A reas­on­able rule of thumb: If you can pro­duce mul­tiple cop­ies of some­thing in a fact­ory, it’s not unique.

And even if they had only pro­duced one iPhone ever, it was­n’t exactly the first or last smart­phone to ever be made.

But the product had unique features!”

You say that a mass-pro­duced product is unique because it has “unique” fea­tures, you say? We’re already on a slip­pery slope of deflat­ing what such a dif­fuse state­ment even means. 

Does it mean that no one will be able to copy these fea­tures?
Or does it simply mean … “new”?

Uniqueness” is, by defin­i­tion, its self-real­iz­ing fea­ture. What makes some­thing unique is that it’s uniquely unique.

A fin­ger­print is unique. A strand of DNA (unless you have an identic­al twin) is unique. A code stamp for a crypto­cur­rency is unique by design. Yes, you are a sin­gu­lar human being flow­ing through the cos­mo­lo­gic­al space­time. And yes, you are unique.

A work of art is unique because there will only be one ori­gin­al, no mat­ter how many cop­ies you make. A non-fun­gible token is unique because that’s its whole purpose.

This blog post is unique and served to you via a unique URL. It’s noth­ing spe­cial about this par­tic­u­lar URL, but it is unique. That’s why the URL works.

But your new product or ser­vice? Or a spe­cif­ic fea­ture? Please.

Unique | Storytelling & Writing | Doctor Spin
Meme via starecat​.com.

At the same time, if you zoom in or out far enough, sud­denly everything becomes unique.

My wrist­watch is unique because no oth­er watch has the same con­fig­ur­a­tion of molecules. No oth­er watch is sit­ting on my left wrist at this very moment. In that sense, my watch is unique.

Beyond describ­ing what’s genu­inely unique by design or pur­pose, the term does­n’t mean any­thing. It’s reduced to cor­por­ate cringe the very moment you type it into the head­line of your press release.

Or worse: Your PR copy is just crap that’s all dan­cing and all singing.

You are not spe­cial. You’re not a beau­ti­ful and unique snow­flake. You’re the same decay­ing organ­ic mat­ter as everything else. We’re all part of the same com­post heap. We’re all singing, all dan­cing crap of the world.”

― Tyler Durden (Chuck Palahniuk), Fight Club

You know how this all works.

If you have to point out that some­thing is “mod­ern”, it prob­ably isn’t.
If you have to point out that some­thing is “cool”, it prob­ably isn’t.
If you have to point out that some­thing is “awe­some”, it prob­ably isn’t.

As fol­lows:

If you have to point out that some­thing is unique, it prob­ably isn’t.

Books serve to show a man that those ori­gin­al thoughts of his aren’t very new after all.”
— Abraham Lincoln

And now we’re get­ting closer to the actu­al reas­on for avoid­ing using the word “unique” in your PR material:

It’s not because the term is so easy to mis­use.
It’s not because the term has been over­used and lost its mean­ing.
It’s not because it’s a sure sign of cor­por­ate cringe.

No, it would be best if you did­n’t use the word “unique” in PR because …

… if you have some­thing unique on offer, why waste that rare PR oppor­tun­ity by telling every­one? Instead, show them.

Signature - Jerry Silfwer - Doctor Spin

Thanks for read­ing. Please sup­port my blog by shar­ing art­icles with oth­er com­mu­nic­a­tions and mar­ket­ing pro­fes­sion­als. You might also con­sider my PR ser­vices or speak­ing engage­ments.

PR Resource: Free Writing PR Course

Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwerhttps://doctorspin.net/
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at Spin Factory and KIX Communication Index. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.
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The Cover Photo

The cover photo isn't related to public relations; it's just a photo of mine. Think of it as a 'decorative diversion', a subtle reminder that there is more to life than strategic communication.

The cover photo has

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