I really do try not to be squeamish about them, and mostly I manage to resist the urge to scream, at least in public, when one startles me by creeping out of a corner or looking me in the eyes in a public toilet. But sometimes, they’re so big, so gross and so, um, present, that I have to leave the room or I will simply lose it.
Good thing I am fond of spiders or I’d have to worry about them too. I am, of course, talking about what we charitably refer to as typos. And I am not talking here about real typographical errors, such as this one:
I am talking about public displays of a lack of attention to detail.
Over and over we hear career experts tell us that a single spelling or grammar error in a resume or cover letter can get us tossed off Recruitment Island, and that’s probably true. So why then do we so willingly put the credibility of our brands on the line by not proofreading (or paying someone to proofread) the work before we unleash it on the world?
Some will suggest it’s because we live in a post-literate world where such quaint notions don’t matter anymore and it’s all about the message. I’m not ready to give up just yet on the idea that paying attention to detail, especially in communications, is essential, particularly if you are attempting to pry money from the hands of the people who have to read it.
Let’s see some examples. Here’s a white paper that is actually rather good, but starts off with an unfortunate apostrophe issue that quite diminishes the credibility of its authors. A decent proofreader would have caught that one in a second. A pickier or busier reader would have thrown the piece out without going further.
The three examples below are from a paper, by a usually reliable provider, that is so loaded with spelling mistakes and improper usage (hint: if you aren’t sure whether you want pertinent or relevant, look them up), that it’s hard to take the authors seriously. The lesson here is that your Schnauzer is not a good editor.
It begun with this chart:
Then we had a bit of a problem with principles:
Before we forgot that criteria is a plural:
I am willing to accept that mistakes happen. This blog, no doubt, is loaded with shining examples of my own laziness when it comes to proofreading. But sometimes one tiny error can ricochet about like a five-year-old in an Ikea warehouse. Like this one, seen dangling from the ceiling at a large event this week.
For a digital network that’s bad enough, but we can’t get away with blaming the sign company since the same mistake appears here, in the print ad:
Oh dear. How eager are you to run out and give them your money? If that was your sign, wouldn’t you climb up there and try to correct it with a Sharpie?
For years I had a print ad hanging on my wall that had been placed in some charity program or other. It read: Congratulations and Best Wishes from Big Insurance Company Limited In Full. Which reminds us that it is particularly important to proofread any text you’ve dictated to somebody.
The bottom line is that not proofreading sends a message that you either don’t know how to do a professional job, or you don’t care. Neither option is doing your brand any favours.
Bizmarketer is Elizabeth Williams
Follow me on Twitter @bizmkter
or email firstname.lastname@example.org