As soon as I was old enough to hold a pen, I’d grab one wherever possible and start scrawling – on bank slips, newspapers, junk mail, my dad’s work papers (oops!). I wasn’t a doodler, though; I was a writer. It was an early sign that my world, personal and professional, would be defined not by numbers or art, but by words: spoken, written, imagined, felt.

But while I’m a writer by trade and by passion, words are powerful for all of us.Click To TweetBut while I’m a writer by trade and by passion, words are powerful for all of us. You don’t need to be an author or academic, and you don’t need to work in PR strategy or marketing communications, to understand their weight. So, when my agency asked all of us – and our clients – to choose one word to define and guide our life and work in 2018, I shouldn’t have been surprised by how hard it was to do. Over the course of a couple days, I jotted down words as they came to me, and while they were all good and each was meaningful, there was only one that I wrote more than once. Focus.

Why Focus Is My Power Word

In today’s daily tsunami of digital news and social feeds, it’s easy to get lost and distracted in the sea of content. And when we’re expected to be “always on” – bombarded by competing priorities – it’s equally easy to lose sight of the things that are most important. I need to zero in on what matters. To make my family number one when I’m at home; to make my work number one when I’m at the office. To set a “dream” goal and go after it with gusto. To give myself – my mind and my body – some overdue and undivided attention.

Here’s what a few of our clients will be focusing on in 2018:


“It’s essential to success when navigating a world where almost nothing is static or certain.” – Mark Leiter, Leiter & Co.


“Do the right thing when it may not be the best thing. Challenge the status quo. Say no or stop the line. ‘Do both’ and avoid making easy, binary choices.” – Jeff Thomson, IMA


“To have more voices heard and working toward a common goal.” – Dan Brandt, MDC Wall


“Working together toward a common cause can be a most powerful tool.” – Guiseppina Araujo, Affinity Credit Union

10 Words to Cut – From Your Writing and PR Strategy Content

Living up to our 2018 words won’t be easy – but that’s the point. It needs to be intentional and sustainable to have meaningful impact. But in the meantime, we can concentrate on something a bit easier: cutting unnecessary fat from our PR and marketing content to give the words we use more power and strength.

This short video from Grammarly gives a few good pointers. And here’s my top 10 list of “filler” words to watch for – and chop from – your writing.

  1. That
  2. So
  3. Very
  4. Really
  5. Just
  6. And then
  7. But
  8. Of
  9. Some
  10. Like
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For nearly 15 years, Jen Zottola has helped bring clients’ stories to life – through media opportunities, digital and marketing content, executive presentations, employee communications and more. Fusing creativity with strategy, she crafts compelling, award-winning copy proven to reach and resonate with the right audiences in the most impactful ways. As editorial director, Jen collaborates with clients and account teams to provide counsel on messaging and voice, as well as writing and editing support. Her creativity isn’t reserved only for writing; Jen also gets a kick out of party- and event planning.