Recently, someone asked me what I do. After I told her, she exclaimed: “Oh, well I’ll bet you’ve noticed how bad the spelling and sentence construction is on so many things online!”

As a matter of fact, I have.

Actually, it’s pretty hard to miss. News stories on Yahoo! routinely have at least a couple of misspelled words, bad punctuation, or complicated sentences that don’t quite make sense. Sometimes they hit a trifecta with all of the above. Facebook posts and other social media sites are particularly rife with spelling and grammar errors. Not just the posts from your friends, either. Yes, even businesses are getting it wrong.

The horror!

So what gives? Are we getting dumber? Is the glowing computer screen numbing our higher thought processes? Whatever the reason, it’s causing an instant loss of credibility, according to Adrian Snood, a Social Media Manager & Community Relationship Specialist. As Snood notes: “A website or blog is often the first place that you go to learn a little bit more about the individual or company. So if your online content has many spelling errors or grammatical mistakes, then why should your visitors take you seriously?”

Snood speculates that part of the problem lies in the fact that even if spellcheck is used, it can’t identify usage errors such as the incorrect use of “there” for “their”, or “your” for “you’re.” He recommends reading each post ALOUD before publishing it, so you are forced to not rush through the process and so you can hear if there is anything awkward or unclear in your writing.

Of course, not everyone is generating social media or website content. But there are other written communications, such as intra agency briefs, emails and, of course, letters and emails to clients, that can always benefit from a closer look.

Whatever the context of our written communication, we would all be well served by this modern day reworking of an old adage:  “Read twice, post once.”

June 7, 2013 · Posted by in copywriting  

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of visiting Washington, DC, to celebrate a really great project we’ve worked on for the past couple years with our client, InterContinental Milwaukee. The hotel was named a finalist in PR News’ Corporate Social Responsibility awards in the category of Corporate-Community Partnership for its Pink Room, a program in which a portion of the proceeds from each guest’s stay in one of the pink-clad rooms is donated to a local breast cancer support organization, ABCD: After Breast Cancer Diagnosis.

The awards luncheon took place at the National Press Club, just about two blocks from the White House and one of the most famous conference facilities in the country, known for hosting global leaders in government, politics, and business.

While the Pink Room didn’t come out on top in its category, it received an honorable mention award—which truly is an honor when listed among companies like Toys R Us (category winner), Craftsman, and WWE.

Prior to the awards luncheon, I participated in the PR News’ PR Writing Workshop led by Michael Long, Director of Writing at Georgetown University. During the three-hour class, we got back to the basics of good PR writing. After you’ve been in the industry awhile, you start to get swayed by what clients want (even though they might not have any experience in PR) and can sometimes lose sight of how things should actually be done to get results. The class was a great refresher course, reminding me of simple principles that can be forgotten in the hustle of the workday. Some examples:

  • Think before you write
  • Keep your goal in mind
  • One sentence equals one idea
  • Adopt the perspective of others

Sunday afternoon, I also had the opportunity to do some exploring. The weather was beautiful as I took in the sites.

 

 

A big congratulations to the Pink Room team and everyone who has worked to make the program a success! I’m honored to be a part of it.

February 14, 2013 · Posted by in event, pr  

Do You Haiku?

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This week I came across a fun article, 17 Haikus About Writing and Editing, by a woman who practices haikus as an exercise to keep her writing fresh and flexible. It seemed like an interesting experiment, so I decided to give it a go. Here’s what I came up with.

Call the media.

We have an awesome story.

Now tell it like this…

PR or social?

Related, but not equal.

Differentiate.

You must proof your work.

Not enough time in the day?

Prepare to look dumb.

Comma before which,

but no comma before that.

Please pay attention.

I could go all day.

But, no time for fun with words.

Clients call my name.

Seriously, my mind will not turn off. What a fun (and addictive) exercise. Go ahead, embrace your inner nerd and give it a try.

December 16, 2011 · Posted by in misc  

Looking for the proper way to write “regifting?” Wondering if “Christmastime” is one word or two? AP to the rescue! Earlier this week it put out a special Holiday Style Guide informing media—and those of us pitching media—how to talk about the holidays (always lowercase, by the way). Here are just a few words/phrases from the list.

Champagne

Capitalize sparkling wine from the French region uncorked to celebrate New Year’s.

Christmastime

One word.

hallelujah

Lowercase the biblical praise to God, but capitalize in composition titles: Handel’s “Hallelujah” chorus.

Kriss Kringle

Not Kris. Derived from the German word, Christkindl, or baby Jesus.

Nativity scene

Only the first word is capitalized.

regifting

Passing along an unwanted present to someone else.

(My personal favorite.)

December 9, 2011 · Posted by in pr  

Olivia Johnson

Our faithful blog followers have undoubtedly noticed the insightful, witty writings of Miss Olivia Johnson on our site as of late. Olivia joined Z2 a couple months back as our dedicated copywriter, but up until now, we haven’t officially announced her arrival at Z2. (Better late than never, as some say!)

Olivia comes to Z2 from Spreenkler Creative and Flipeleven Creative in Bay View, Wisconsin, where she worked as a copywriter, content strategist and social media advisor. She has experience working with national and local accounts in the education, automotive and non-profit industries.

And she’s jumped right into things here at Z2! From video and radio scripts advertising copy and more, Olivia has been writing her little heart out.

When she’s not writing professionally, Olivia writes for pleasure. She’s currently working on her first book—about a homeless man living in New York. She has also been enjoying learning to cook and spending time with her two cats, Eskimo and Louie (it should be noted she does have human friends, too).

On behalf of the Z2 team, welcome Olivia!

March 18, 2011 · Posted by in misc