I have no doubt that my Communication students at Curry College…especially those who have put up with me in the Public Relations Concentration that I oversee…are going to moan, “Oh, Colonel, there he goes again.”
But a couple of incidents on LinkedIn this morning have set me off…and, weirdly enough, have reminded me of my all-too-short romance as Communications Services Director for the Blood Bank of Hawaii.
Please explain, Kirk.
Well, the LinkedIn episodes involved misspelled words, incorrect grammar usage, and other literary felonies…committed by individuals who should have known better.
My PR troops at Curry know this is one of my “thin-skin” areas. I go through seemingly cases of red pens in the course of a semester trying valiantly to drum into these folks’ knobby heads the non-option of correct writing in our profession.
As I say time and again, “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression and close attention to your writing paves the way.”
Some get it. Some don’t. So be it. I focus on those who try, because they are the ones who I will go to the ends of the earth to help get those all-so-important internships that will open the doors to those awesome first jobs after graduation.
The thing is…writing right takes time.
It’s one thing to bang out a ton of words to tell a story or make a point.
It’s another to present those words professionally…to persuade the reader/listener/viewer that what he or she has just read/heard/seen is correctly…and accurately…communicated.
And a typo is like that grain of sand that gets in your shoe while you’re walking on the beach. It’s a tiny thing…but it can very quickly become a royal pain in the arch.
There’s no “magic wand” to wave and solve the typo problem. But here are a few steps that you can take to help reduce the chances of one slipping by…
- Don’t rush. Take your time and pay attention to what you’re writing and how. Read and re-read a minimum of three-to-four times. For example, for this particular post, I have edited it six times, fine-tuning word usage…looking up the spelling of certain words…playing with commas and ellipses.
- Recruit a second set of eyes. Ask someone else to take a careful look at what you’ve written. Your eyes will see what you want them to see. The other person’s won’t. When I’m writing something for a client or someone who I really want to persuade, I ask my Chinese wife to read it. She reads the words literally…what they are saying.
- Learn from your mistakes. I know that there are certain words that I invariably will spell as other real, but incorrect, words. So I take the other words out of my computer dictionary. That way, when I do accidentally write the incorrect word, spellcheck alerts me to the error.
- Don’t trust spellcheck. If I had a nickel for every time a student told that me that he defiantly was going to attend a meeting…
So there you have it. My take on typos and other word usage boo-boos.
Now, back to the Type O.
Slipping into my all-too-familiar (to my long-suffering students) role of former Blood Bank communications guy, if you are eligible to donate blood, please do. And if you’re Blood Type O…known as a “universal donor,” meaning the blood you donate can be used for anyone in need of a transfusion…please do.
Give that others may live…
Together We Can Save Lives.