Kel Kelly

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Whether it's topical news, internet happenings, social media, public relations, marketing, start-ups, mobile shiz or whatever, I promise to wade through the bullshit and give you my unbuffered perspective.

You'll note I never take on a "corporate tone" — whether I'm chatting you up at a party or speaking to the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company, my voice never changes. I say what's on my mind and I'm often the champion of the underdog.

I'm a social media junkie and smoke Google Analytics in a crack pipe to get my day going. I hope my immersed insight and offbeat view make you laugh. More importantly, I hope you take a second and share your thoughts by posting a comment. If you have any ideas on how to make my blog better, shoot an email to [email protected].

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I’m Not Thrilled You’re Thrilled

January 28, 2011 4:00 PM

If PR people were forced to wear an invisible fence-like dog collar and get shocked every time they used the word “thrilled” in a press release quote, there would be very few PR peeps walking the earth who didn’t look like they were jonesing for drugs. The use of the word thrilled is the epitome of laziness, comfort zone and bad word choice. A thrill is something that leaves you with goose bumps and panting from excitement. Last I checked nobody was ever left panting after forming a business partnership, hiring an employee or launching a new product. Well maybe they were if there was some funny business going on, but that certainly wouldn’t get disclosed in a press release. That stuff usually surfaces later when a scandal is leaked to the press. Think: HP CEO Mark Hurd and IBM Heir Apparent Robert Moffat.

In a few rare cases, the word thrill doesn’t do the quote justice. Take for example, Google’s acquisition this week of SayNow. In the release, SayNow co-founders were quoted as saying:

“We are thrilled to announce that we have been acquired by Google.”

Ummmmm….really, dudes? I think a quote that would have more accurately captured how you were feeling would have been something like:

“We are stoked that we are now rich beyond our wildest dreams. Booyah!”

OK, so maybe that language is a bit too edgy for some brands, but the point is dare to be different. Be the thrill police. Don’t use the word thrilled in the press release draft that you give to your client and if they try to edit it in, playfully accuse them of being dull. Seriously. Nobody wants to be dull and some people just need to be pointed to an alternative. offers the following synonyms for “thrilled” when used as an adjective:

“animated, aroused, elated, electrified, fired up, inspired, moved, stirred, touched, worked up.”

Something tells me “aroused” would have been a better way to describe how the founders of SayNow felt when they found out the Google acquisition was finalized.

I’m also a big fan of using Although you always need to weed out a few really offensive search results, here’s what they came back with as an option for the word thrilled:

“excited, happy, ecstatic, stoked, psyched, pumped, elated, overjoyed, anxious, jazzed, joyful, pleased, enthralled, exhilarated, amped, enthused, jubilant, enthusiastic, energized, satisfied.”

There are lots of good options here, if you can get your client to step outside the box and let you add some real energy and originality to the quote.

Clearly Ann Taylor doesn’t like being outside the box and they were so ridiculously thrilled, that they used the word twice when they announced Katie Holmes as the face of Ann Taylor’s Spring 2011 advertising campaign:

“We are thrilled to have Katie as the face of Ann Taylor….” said Christine Beauchamp, President of Ann Taylor Stores.

“I’ve been a fan of Ann Taylor since I was a young girl….I am thrilled to be part of a brand I believe in,” said Holmes.

Really Katie? Ann Taylor gives you goose bumps and leaves you panting from excitement? If that were the case, I’m sure TMZ would have broke that story with a video capturing the moment long before the press release ever hit the wire. Ann leaving Katie panting would have certainly aroused Tom Cruise faster than you can say, “Where’s Oprah’s couch?”

To thrill or not to thrill. Thoughts?

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Posted by Kel | in Uncategorized | 19 Comments »

19 Comments on “I’m Not Thrilled You’re Thrilled”

  1. Tweets that mention Kel Kelly Blog – I’m Not Thrilled You’re Thrilled -- Says:

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by kelkelly, Brigid Greenway. Brigid Greenway said: RT @kelkelly: new blog post: "i'm not thrilled you're thrilled" [...]

  2. Michelle Heath Says:

    Love reading your posts, Kel, because you always make me laugh and this one is spot on! I am appalled to say that I am guilty of using “thrilled” and, more often, “excited” in our releases. I am going to put “aroused” in the next draft to my CEO just to make sure he’s following along:)

    I agree with your point about a press release carrying the voice of a company. I try to write the way I speak – that’s usually a good rule.

    Thanks for putting your $.02 out there in your, as usual, witty and direct way. I am forwarding this on to my PR folks and am changing up the flavor of our releases!

  3. Kel Says:

    michelle, thanks for taking the time to comment. glad this made you laugh. let me know how the “aroused” quote is received by your ceo. ha!

  4. Laura Says:


    I also liked this post. I have never used thrilled, but am guilty of saying pleased a lot in quotes. “We are pleased to announce our partnership with so and so.” More often than not, I realize I’m just using that as a placeholder, and I can delete the entire sentence.

    Thanks for pointing out this common problem in quotes. I have to admit, I’m a huge fan of not even including quotes in press releases unless they can say something really useful!! :-) .


  5. Kel Says:

    laura, thanks for commenting. i will take your perspective one step further and say that “i would be deliriously stoked if the industry would stop doing press releases all together.” i think we should reinvent the whole thing. canned messaging and insincere quotes are almost laughable at times. let’s create something called an “fyi blast” or something — short & sweet yet informative. now that would get me thrilled!

  6. Pattie Says:

    My first visit here and I love your blog already. Tell it like it is girl!

  7. Kel Says:

    thanks pattie! i have never been accused of being a suck up. haha. swing by again. i appreciate that out of all the content on the internet you took the time to read my blog.

  8. Laura Says:

    Kel – I have to agree with you, and I think a lot of the industry agrees as well – the problem is educating the client. I have seen some recent press releases just doing bullet points. I’d like to try that myself. I need to push for it more.

  9. Kel Says:

    laura, i couldn’t agree more. my client base is mostly internet companies, so i find they are way more open to playing outside the box. more traditional brands are often paralyzed by “what everyone else is doing” and afraid to pave a new path. i think like anything else it will take time, but i do feel as the agency, it is our job to continue to point them in a fresh, new direction. thanks again for commenting! i’m sure my readers appreciate your thoughts.

  10. Laura Says:


    Wanted to share – I just got an email from Michelle Obama annoucing where the Democrat Convention will be. Guess what the subject line was? “Thrilled!”


  11. Kel Says:

    laura, i had a bunch of people forward that same email to me. too funny. i also thought it was ridiculous that cnn sent it out via text as breaking news. kinda pathetic.

  12. Mike Says:

    Hi Kel,

    I’ve enjoyed reading your blog over the years and was thrilled to see your topic for this month. I couldn’t agree with you more. The verbiage used in a lot of press releases is just the same old thing copy/pasted from the previous thousand press releases. Be different.

    Somewhat related but not too much, I’m tired of managers being “super excited” about some new change in their org or a new product release etc. I’m sure to the people hearing the first guy who said that it probably sounded like he meant it. But it’s become so commonplace to say “super excited” that it’s lost it’s significace. I don’t believe it anymore.

  13. Kel Says:

    mike, that is great insight and so true! “super excited” about an org change is pretty lame. honestly, anything short of having an a**hole employee fired would probably fall short of the “super excited” bar. thanks for taking the time to post a comment. i’m sure the readers appreciate your perspective.

  14. Margaret Says:

    I’m with you on canning insincere press release quotes. They are so dated and everyone knows a PR person wrote them. Katie Holmes + aroused quote would have been great for SEO – you might have something there!

  15. Kel Says:

    margaret, that’s certainly a “creative” way to optimize seo. my “losing my mac virginity” post from two years ago still drives a ton of traffic to my blog. ha!

  16. Bill Simon Says:

    Great observations on words; and words do matter!

    I Googled “Kel Kelly opinions” looking for information on Kel Kelly, author of “The Case for Legalizing Capitalism.” However, I quickly arrived on your blog, which I liked!

    Based on my first impressions of both Kel Kelly’s I have a question for you. Do you know the other Kel Kelly? If you do, what’s your opinion of the “other” Kel Kelly and his views?

  17. Kel Says:

    hey bill! glad you made it here — even if it was by mistake. i have never met the other kel kelly. however, i get a ton of google alerts for the coverage her book is getting. props to her for that. you can never have too many kel kellys making noise. haha.

  18. Bill Simon Says:

    The other Kel Kelly happens to be a male. In light of our current economy his book seems interesting. Just about to start reading it.
    I wish the other Bill Simon produced some google alerts for me.
    Thanks for the reply.

  19. Kel Says:

    thanks for the correction! i can see where the name would apply to either gender. enjoy the book! “he” appears to be getting a lot of props for it.

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