Saturday, 23 October 2010

The Importance of Getting it Right - Blogging, Tweeting, Facebook and more

I received a contract recently (and no, I'm not going to tell you who it was from) which started by getting my name wrong. It was addressed to Shirley. Well, as you know, my name is not Shirley. I laughed, and asked the person concerned to send me out another contract, knowing full well that what she had done (oops.......she) was to just update one she had sent to someone before, without changing the name.

Bigger mistake, recently, and on my part - I sent an invoice (mucho important one) out to a company I was consulting for, and gave an incorrect sort code, by one digit only, but I'm sure you can guess, my money went to the wrong account and it took ages to sort out. Not only that but there was my embarassement at having to ask for it to be sorted on my behalf.

In this age of email marketing, twittering, facebook, blogging and more (and lets not tlk abt txtng) there is less and less concentration on getting it right. By that I mean checking every word, every phrase and sentence, punctuation, contact names. We're constantly updating, re-editing and mailing in a hurry. Pressing send without checking all the finer details.

I think it's time to get back to basics. To be aware that:

People hate to be addressed incorrectly - they are less likely to read what you send, let alone take it seriously, and will be distracted by the fact that you couldn't be bothered to get it right.

Spelling mistakes are noted and it doesn't matter if you're writing a blog or sending a letter to your bank manager. You will be thought less of if you don't bother to check through.

Punctuation is important. It adds or detracts meaning to what you are saying. Don't take it lightly, make an effort to get your 's, ;s ?s and -s in the right place. This is a very good page to have a look at

Exclamation marks - be very careful where you use them. You think they're adding substance, but very often they're unnecessary and totally over-egging the pudding!!

You should read everything through that you're going to send out, to anyone, several times. We're all guilty of the hurried click, myself included. Slow down and make sure you know, and are happy with, what you're sending. Having proof-read my books, which were then professionally proof-read and then found errors in the printed copies I can tell you that getting it totally right is always going to be near-on impossible. What you can do is get it more correct than you're doing now.

My worst typo ever - When I worked as a lowly assistant for the Financial PR Director of Leo Burnett, in St Martin's Lane (a very long time ago), I had to send a message to famed financial journalist Andreas Whittam Smith, co-founder of the Independent who later became President of the British Board of Film Classification. In my hurry to get this message out to him (and I can't remember what it was), I substituted an S for the all important W. Work it out. I was never allowed to forget it.

I'm now going to have a good read through of this before I publish it. Let me know if you find any typos, please.

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