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My Copywriting Pet Peeves

Pet peeves. Let’s be honest. We all have them. They’re those annoying little behaviors that, while seemingly normal to everyone else, drive you bonkers.

Being surrounded by the written — or typed — word for the majority of the day, I happen to have collected a number of personal pet peeves when it comes to copywriting.

It should be noted I subscribe to the AP Stylebook frame of mind, so for those writers out there who have their differences of opinion, to each their own.

The following list is in no particular peeve order, but each is nonetheless like nails on a chalkboard to my copyediting brain.

  1. Home in vs. hone in: I bet you’ve heard someone say something like, “Let’s hone in on this goal and really try to hit the mark by the end of the first quarter.” Well, it’s wrong. It should be “home in.” I promise. Whenever using the word “in,” always put “home” before it, not “hone.” I get that it seems weird. But in truth, home as a verb means “to move or be aimed toward a destination or target with great accuracy.” Just like to “home in on.” Now, you can certainly “hone” (or sharpen) your skills. But you can’t “hone in” on your target — nope.
  2. Daylight saving: This is on the list primarily because we just rolled the clocks back for daylight saving time (DST) this fall. I would guess many people don’t know it’s wrong say “daylight savings time.” Don’t believe Wikipedia that says, “Daylight saving time (DST), also daylight savings time (United States).” You are saving time … not savings time. (sigh)
  3. Hyphens: Those little marks sure can make or break you. Heck, there’s a whole section in the AP Stylebook that says “use of the hyphen is far from standardized. It is optional in most cases, a matter of taste, judgment and style sense.” Just in case you weren’t already confused by them. The standard I go by is making sure to hyphenate words that act as adjectives or modifiers for a noun in the specific text. For example: full-time job; high-quality care; first-rate service. When coming after the noun, the modifier is no longer hyphenated, i.e. She has a job that is full time.
  4. Capitalization of titles: This one gets you, every time. People like to capitalize things — they just do. More important. More significant. But in some cases, more wrong. (OK, that was bad grammar, but you get the point.) Only capitalize titles when they are directly before someone’s name. For example: Vice President Public Relations Tiffany Whisner. When the title comes after your name, don’t capitalize it. I am Tiffany Whisner, vice president public relations. Hard to swallow, but if you really want your title capitalized, put it before your name.
  5. Comma, specifically the Oxford comma: I left this one for last. The Oxford comma is also known as the serial comma, and it sparks a lot of debate in the copy community. (Sad, isn’t it?) It’s the final comma in a list of things. AP Style does not require the use of the Oxford comma, and personally, I’m not a fan. I prefer, “The flag is red, white and blue” as opposed to, “The flag is red, white, and blue.” That last comma actually was difficult to even put in the sentence! I ONLY use the Oxford comma when the meaning of the sentence would otherwise be unclear. Now, when you start writing a complex series of words, that’s a different story. While I can’t say using the Oxford comma is wrong … I CAN say it’s a pet peeve. A big one.

Need someone to write or edit your article, blog, brochure, newsletter or website? We can do that for you, among other things. Rest assured your copy will be handled with care, sans the Oxford comma.

By Tiffany Whisner,
Vice President Public Relations

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Hands On With Sam

We’re highlighting our Coles Marketing collaborators by showcasing some of their many talents. Every day they contribute ideas, designs, strategy and so much more that drives positive results for our clients.

Our copywriter, Sam Watermeier, takes words and turns them into unbelievable stories that encapsulate our clients’ goals. From writing poems and creative works in his spare time to catering his writing for more technical products, Sam does it all. Below are some recent tasks he’s tackled:

  • Wrote copy for a new website
  • Interviewed and wrote three employee spotlight articles
  • Created a monthly corporate metrics report
  • Helped design and write the process for crafting a newsletter template

Sam’s Passions

Current Netflix Binge Show: Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee

Favorite Restaurant: Luciana’s Mexican Restaurant (Arroz con pollo is the perfect meal.)

Favorite App: Bravo TV, it allows me to stream the high-seas drama of Below Deck

Describe Yourself in 3 Words: Quiet, quirky, creative

Stay tuned to see who will be featured next!

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Five Q’s with Diana Zukerman

She’s a marketing guru, super stylish and extremely client savvy. Diana Zukerman is head of business development for Coles Marketing. She knows exactly what clients need to succeed. Here, we sit down with her to get the intel on her high-level expertise for 2019.

1) How do you start your day? Are you a strong coffee/hit-the-snooze-button person? Or a lemon water cleanse/yoga-up-at-5 a.m. person?

Probably more of the yoga-type person, to be honest. Every morning, it’s important for me to start with a workout. Usually Pilates or the gym. So I grab my workout bag, give my sweet Bernese Mountain dog Janey a hug and head out the door. Here are a few pics of her, if you care to take a look (p.s. – She loves to go to brunch. The first photo below is her at Rosie’s in Zionsville). After my workout, I reward myself with a large iced tea from Starbucks!

2) Tell us a little about your background. How have you parlayed your previous skills into this exciting role with Coles Marketing?

My background is in advertising sales for a luxury lifestyle publication. I also have been involved with several local charities on the fundraising end of things. My experiences both professionally and personally have made my role as the business development lead at Coles a perfect fit.

3) Since you’re the first contact potential clients connect with, it proves just how much of a “people person” you really are! What’s your favorite part about meeting potential clients?

I absolutely love meeting potential clients and learning about their roles with their companies. It’s so interesting finding out what their needs are. Everyone is so different and has different goals. It’s always exciting to learn about each industry. Each client is unique, and I love creating a plan of action to help them succeed!

4) When discussing a potential client’s needs and wants, what are some trends you’ve been seeing from client to client? What kind of help are they seeking?

Everything is digital now. We see a lot of clients who want to increase their digital presence but really don’t understand it. They are seeking more engagement and want help increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to their website. It’s so important! We also have several clients who are looking to redo their existing website. It’s essential to have a strong website. Your website is usually the first point of contact when a potential client wants to learn more about your business. You need to make a good impression.

5) Fourth quarter is coming up. And NOW is the time to start thinking about future marketing efforts! What advice can you give to someone ready to take the next step?

2018 is flying by, and it’s not too late to prepare! As we approach the fourth quarter of 2018, many of our clients are reflecting on the successes of their 2018 marketing plan and how to continue to improve next year. They’re turning their focus toward identifying their 2019 marketing goals and preparing their budgets for the upcoming year. 

Just one meeting can make all the difference. I would love the opportunity to visit with you to review your marketing needs. Let’s talk more about how Coles Marketing can provide real value to your business. Please feel free to reach out to me at dzukerman@colesmarketing.com if you would like to set up a time to chat about your marketing needs!

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