Editing: a key part of the writing process

February 8, 2008 at 4:01 pm (PR Writing, Uncategorized) (, , , )

EditingGetting Ink gives some good constructive criticism to a few press releases it has seen this week. Some mistakes include grammar, capitalization and style. Of the three analyzed, my favorite is:

8 Tips to Help Your Child with SATs tests This May

If I was a parent and saw this headline, I would not read it. Why should I trust your tips, if you can’t even write correctly?  

As a PR student, the consequences for grammar and writing mistakes are pretty rigorous. I took a class called Writing for the Media that rewarded a big fat ‘F’ if there was one mistake – harsh, but a great incentive for proofreading. Luckily, students in that class had the chance to rewrite each ‘F,’ but this is not how the real world works.

There are very few, if any, second chances once you send out a release to a publication. Training early to watch for errors is good.  As the editorial services director for Allen Hall Public Relations, here are a couple of common errors I’ve seen that can be easily avoided:

  • Misspelled names and titles – It is extremely important to spell names correctly because no one wants to see his or her name spelled wrong. The person always notices. 
  • Incorrect title punctuation and style – This is the first thing the reader sees. It should be error free and appealing. 
  • Inaccurate information – What is the reporter going to do when it finds your information is inaccurate? First, the person will either conduct more research than necessary or not write the story. Second, the person will toss your next press release.
Proofing your own work is actually quite hard. Sometimes you just don’t see things. I’m still learning. A good tip from one of my professors is to read everything out loud. It also may be a good idea to have a buddy or someone else at work proof it for you before you send it to your boss/editors and the media. 
 
* Image courtesy of FlickrMr. WrightIt was taken under the Creative Commons  license. 
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1 Comment

  1. mynameisb said,

    Eileen:

    I love this post. Editing is one of the most fundamental practices of writing, yet many people choose not to do it. It’s really important to edit all work, especially as you enter the professional world.

    I know that at every agency they will reject an application if there are errors in the cover letter. Even if your resumé is outstanding, if the cover letter is flawed then they won’t even get to it. And where does that leave you?

    One of my favorite editing tricks is to do a basic edit, then leave my workspace for several minutes (maybe get a drink or go to the bathroom), and come back with rested eyes. It really does work.

    Branden

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