Even Proofreaders Need Proofreaders

A new client came the publicist’s way, one that promised to be lucrative. In her excitement, the publicist dashed off an incisive, newsworthy press release and threw it in the mail post-haste.

Before the publicist had a chance to follow up with the media, the client called and left a message on her voice mail. He’d received his copy of the news release in the mail. He would no longer require her services, he said.

Because she’d misspelled his business’s name throughout the news release.

Oh, the shame! The horror! The lost income!

I could regale you with similar tales of woe — and they are endless — but you’re probably thinking, “So what? I’m not a publicist. My writing doesn’t have to be perfect. My area of expertise lies elsewhere.”

Which is precisely why you need a proofreader. Oh, how you need a proofreader. Even proofreaders, when writing, need a proofreader. Because the brain switches to autopilot when reading something of its own creation. Instead of seeing what’s actually there, it sees what should be there.

Even if you do give your written material the once-over before sending it out, you may have fallen victim to the biggest mass delusion of our technology age: that the Internet and its chatspeak shorthand has revolutionized language to the extent that proper spelling, grammar and punctuation are obsolete. Even — gasp! — quaint.

Here I need you to picture me as Dom Deluise in Blazing Saddles as he’s heckling the dancers with a megaphone to his mouth: WRONG! Why? Readers of sloppy, unedited writing think: “He didn’t care enough to do it right.” Or “How good at her job can she be if she can’t spell ‘their’ correctly?”

Some years ago, an attorney sent me an email solicitation with a headline that blared:  SOMEDAY YOUR GOING TO NEED A LAWYER!!!

Now, this guy must be clairvoyant, because I recently did have to retain a lawyer. But I would sooner eat haggis than hire one who doesn’t know the difference between “your” and “you’re.” Are you catching my drift here?

If you regularly send out communication pieces riddled with typos, inconsistencies and bloated verbiage, at best you’ll get a polite “We’ve decided to go in a different direction.” At worst, the recipient will save your piece to bring out and share when office morale dips.

And if your written materials aren’t polished to a high sheen, every skill set you have comes into question. In the same way that the eyes are the window to the soul, your writing is the window to your competence and credibility.

You’re no doubt brilliant at what you do. Why not let your writing communicate that fact?


1 Comment

  1. […] to pay attention to silly grammar rules–you’ve got money to steal! (Or, as in my story about the lawyer who sent out a blast email blaring “SOMEDAY YOUR GOING TO NEED A […]

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