The CYA Approach to PR Writing- Three tips to help catch common errors

by Jade Stevens, President

Imagine waking up to your client’s ad on television. You are excited to see the final product of a project that took months of conference calls, emails and research to pull together. As you watch the end of the ad, you can’t help but to notice a typo. How could you miss this? Weren’t there rounds of revisions and thousands of eyes that should have caught that typo before it went live?

These may have been a few of the immediate thoughts that ran through the heads of Mitt Romney’s communications team, when they saw this:

A photo of the White House taken with an

As bad as it may seem, typos happen. No matter how many times you use spell check or proofread, it’s likely that something might be overlooked. See if you can catch the typos below:

reebok_typo

It will happen to the best of us and eventually we will all make that devastating typo in a document where it seems like the end of the world. But it doesn’t have to be because many of these said typos can be prevented. I want to share three tips that I’ve learned to cover your a** in PR writing.

  1. Two pairs of eyes are better than one- I have learned that once you come too close to working on a document, you can be your worst editor. Mainly because you know what it needs to say even if it doesn’t necessarily read that way on paper. Have a fresh set of eyes check it for grammar and for content. You may find that they will catch the most obvious errors.
  2. Check It Once, Check it Again, Then Check To Make Sure That You Checked It Again- When writing, we are often placed on tight deadlines that causes us to rush and not give the proper amount of time needed to proof and edit our work. Sometimes it’s best to work backwards from your deadlines and give yourself additional deadlines to ensure your document has been edited correctly. For example, if you have something due in two days, work to make sure the draft version is done in enough time to have at least one other person look at it. Or if your deadline is in a couple of hours make sure to let your colleagues know in advance that you may need them to look at something to meet a deadline.
  3. Be Honest With Yourself- If you find yourself writing a lot, which I’m sure you will. You should be able to catch your common errors. This is an area that you should work twice as hard on to make sure it doesn’t happen. It should also be the first thing you check for when editing your work.

Now please note these tips will not prevent every typo from slipping through the cracks, but it will definitely help catch the more common ones. Writing well comes with writing often and allowing others to see your work. The more you work at it, the better chance you have at preventing major mistakes like the ads previously mentioned. To see the 14 of the worst typos, click here.

If you would like a workshop to focus on common errors in PR writing email me at jade@prsala.org.

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