Category Archives: Copywriting

The 7 Banned Words – Um, Remember Freedom of Speech?

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services made it clear last month that to ensure their funding stream, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is best advised to avoid 7 words in their vocabulary: “fetus,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “vulnerable,” “evidence-based,” and “science-based.”

Really? Come on now, folks. There is simply no excuse for asking anyone to “tone down” their documents by erasing parts of the English language. Some call this a “ban”, while others term it a “recommendation”. Either way, it’s simply “very problematic.”

Of course, none of us can tolerate censorship of our work. And those of us dealing with critical social issues — such as healthcare or human rights or the environmental crisis or poverty — need every word at our disposal to help us make the world a better place.  Even in business writing, which is often thought of as dry and painful, we writers have the right to express ourselves fully (creatively, even).

I was heartened to read about The Human Rights Campaign’s response to the Trump Administration’s dictate; the organization projected all 7 words onto the entrance to the Trump International Hotel in Washington, along with the words “we will not be erased.”

As writers, let’s instead use our erasers (or delete buttons) to make sure our words are clear, concise, and meaningful: to say whatever needs to be said, no matter what.

The Green Scene: Reframing “Climate Change” Messages

In recent months and years, climate change has been making an increasingly deeper impact on every one of our lives — across the country and around the world. But the term “climate change” doesn’t seem sufficient to describe the enormous challenges we are facing today: historic fires, droughts, hurricanes, and the sinking of some coastal cities.

As we already know, using the right language can mean a huge difference in successfully winning a grant, engaging a website visitor, or accomplishing a myriad of other essential tasks in our organizations. Just as important, the language we use to define our environmental problems can influence how others see the situation and take action (or not).

How can the right language help? Perhaps renaming “climate change” is a start. “Climate change” doesn’t identify the depth of the challenge, describe why things are happening as they are, or inspire us to address the situation. Susan Strong, Founder and Executive Director of The Metaphor Project (and a former editing client of mine for her book, Move Our Message: How to Get America’s Ear), mentions three steps we can take to use our language more decisively.

Read about her three steps in her blog article, Reframe “climate change,” in 3 Steps!.



Positive Words Make All the Difference

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about the power of positive words to make a real, enduring difference in our lives. No matter what challenges we face in our personal or professional lives, maintaining a positive attitude and voicing that perspective often means the difference between success and failure. It’s that simple.

I came across this brief but extremely powerful online video that I just had to share. It’s about the power of words in the life of Thomas Edison, one of the greatest inventors in U.S. history.(Okay, there may be some controversy about all of his patents, but still…)

I believe this inspirational clip deserves its more than 81 million views and 3 million shares on Youtube. I would love to hear your thoughts on its message.

This is a great reminder to always frame your messages in the positive. Stress what something IS rather than what it IS NOT. Emphasize what you CAN and WILL DO rather than what you CANNOT. Orient your messages toward problem-solving.

They will travel a lot farther that way!