When flag football season ended, I was looking for something fun for my son to do after school. A friend referred me to this ad at her grocery store: “Marital Arts After School Program.” Now, you might think it’s too soon for my 13-year-old to start thinking about marriage and learning marital arts, but that’s what this place is offering. I can only assume they teach remote control sharing and picking up your own socks.
Obviously the ad meant to say “Martial Arts,” not Marital Arts. It’s easy to think, ‘Well, small, family-owned business, they probably don’t have a big budget.’ That’s what makes this all the more tragic. They squandered the marketing money they had because they didn’t proofread thoroughly. And proofreading doesn’t cost a thing.
No matter your budget, your creativity level, whether you have cool stories to pitch or a lame org to cover, the one thing that is in your control is clean copy. While a Fortune 500 company may have many resources and advantages that locally owned businesses don’t, clean copy is an equalizer. It doesn’t come down to money or even skill, it just comes down to effort. Put in the extra work to make sure your content is free of typos, spelling errors, grammar errors, and inconsistencies.
Here are four ways to up your proofreading game:
- Commit to doing it. Make it a never-skip part of your writing process.
- Take a break before proofreading. Give your brain time to switch gears and come back to your project with fresh eyes.
- Read from the bottom up. This helps you focus less on the meaning of the content and more on each word and sentence.
- Get someone else to do it. You’ve spent so long on this post you’ve practically memorized it. Which makes it easy for your brain to skip over words and miss errors. Ask a coworker to take a look and catch anything you’re missing.
You may not get to choose the stories you’re asked to promote. And you probably don’t get to decide your budget. But writing error-free is 100% within your control.
And if this is something you’ve struggled with (are you always a little unsure about when to use compliment and complement?), check out my Definitive Guide to PR Writing, where I devote a whole module to clean copy.
We work so hard to get the things we write in front of the right audiences. Let’s make sure that when they see them there’s no confusion about whether our event involves karate moves or marriage advice.