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Take Note: Good Writing Still Matters

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According to We Are Social’s 2014 Global Digital Statistics, 2.5 billion people are online, and 1.8 billion are on social networks.

 

In June 2012, more than 423 billion texts were sent that month, as noted by Statistic Brain. Multiple hours are spent daily typing on desktop and mobile devices, through email, texting and social media.

 

Tiffany Whisner

Tiffany Whisner

BTW, I’m lost in translation

When people often text and type in shorthand, such as “BRB” (be right back) and “LOL” (laughing out loud), is it any wonder that proper grammar gets lost in translation?

 

Some suggest polished writing isn’t necessary anymore. It’s more about getting your point across. But as Amy Hourigan says in her blog, “Do you think your boss will take you seriously if you email, ‘I want 2 c u to talk about a promotion?’”

 

She writes about 75% of hiring managers said a grammar or spelling error on a job application is worse than showing up late to an interview. And Andrew Clarke says in an Entrepreneur article, when investors see a business plan “with spelling, punctuation and grammar errors, they immediately wonder what else is wrong with the business.”

 

Make grammar your thing

Whether you are penning a long-form article or blog, use correct grammar to let others know you aren’t ignorant of the rules … or just ignorant.

 

Here are some tips from ShortStack in Kristin Piombino’s PR Daily article and from Jon Gingerich in his LitReactor column:

 

  1. Lay vs. Lie: Lay is a transitive verb that requires a subject and one or more objects. Lie is an intransitive verb that needs no object.

Example: Lay – I lay the pencil on the table. Yesterday I laid the pencil on the table. Lie – The Andes Mountains lie between Chile and Argentina. The man lay waiting for an ambulance.

Note: The most common mistake occurs when the writer uses the past tense of the word lay (I laid on the bed) when he/she actually means the past tense of lie (I lay on the bed).

  1. Further vs. Farther: Further is used to indicate figurative distance. Farther is used to indicate physical distance.

Example: If you complain further about Google+, I will move my desk farther away.

  1. I vs. Me: I is used when the pronoun is the subject of a verb. Me is used when the pronoun is the object of a verb.

Example: Sara and I are attending Social Media Marketing World this year. Can you attend Social Media Marketing World with Sara and me?

Note: It is never correct to say “Sara and I’s favorite social media event.” Instead, you would say “Sara’s and my.”

  1. I.e. vs. e.g.: i.e. is an abbreviation of the Latin phrase meaning “that is.” Use i.e. to help explain what you said but in a different way. E.g. is an abbreviation of the Latin phrase meaning “for example.”

Example: Social media networks, e.g. Facebook and Twitter, have made it possible for customers to communicate directly with brands, i.e. allowing them to critique and compliment in a public forum.

  1. Whether vs. If: Many people assume “whether” is interchangeable with “if.” It isn’t. Whether expresses a condition where there are two or more alternatives. If expresses a condition with no alternatives.

Example: I don’t know whether I’ll see a movie tonight. I’ll see a movie tonight if I have money for a ticket.

 

Right the wrongs, IMHO

We all make grammar and punctuation errors. But don’t let these errors be a reflection of you or your business’s professionalism, creativity and attention to detail … or lack thereof.

 

Coles Marketing can be your second set of eyes. Contact us today!

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Staying On Track in a Distracting Workplace

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If you work in an office setting, it can sometimes be a minefield of would-be distractions, both personal and digital. From email, voicemail messages and drop-ins from your boss or co-workers, it can be a tremendous challenge to stay focused on a project when there is so much competition for your attention.

 

How bad can it get? A University of California, Irvine, researcher found a typical office worker only gets to work uninterrupted for 11 minutes! And it takes an average of 25 minutes to return to the original task at hand.

Christopher Lloyd

Christopher Lloyd

 

How we work today

Part of the issue is the everyday nature of the modern workplace. But much of it is also how we’ve trained ourselves to always be available to our clients and colleagues. Not answering a text or email immediately can be viewed as detrimental to a professional relationship.

 

Couple that with the increasing popularity of open-office plans without dividers and an emphasis on collaborative give-and-take, and many feel afraid to say, “No, I’m busy right now.”

 

Delays=Lower quality

But don’t people eventually adjust to the hectic new workflow? In one experiment, a journalist and a scientist conducted a study in which people were asked to read a short passage and answer questions about it, while being interrupted a certain number of times.

 

They found those expecting an interruption that never came initially did poorer than those who were never distracted, but made up the gap on subsequent efforts. So it is possible to “train” yourself for distractions. Though being left completely alone is still the best option.

 

Coping with distraction

There are some suggestions out there for handling distractions. Not all are possible for every situation, but you can mix and match to find the best system for you:

 

  • Andrew Marsh, CEO of Fifth Column Games, actually gave employees a literal “cone of silence” they could place on their desks to let colleagues know they were in an “uninterruptable” period.
  • Take frequent breaks. Human bodies are said to have a 90-minute energy cycle. So this operates as a handy guide for how long people can work straight before needing to recharge.
  • Know your own energy rhythms. Some people are at their creative best first thing in the morning. Others don’t really get humming until after lunchtime. Learn when you’re at your best, and try to set that time aside for your most intense tasks.
  • Not every email really needs an immediate response. And when you do write back, keep your replies short and sweet.
  • Have a go-to phrase to let people know now is not the right time. It can be as simple as, “I can’t talk now, can you send me a meeting request?”

 

Being able to cope with and reduce distractions in order to focus on the task at hand has become a necessity.

 

Another great solution is to delegate some of your communications needs to an agency. Coles Marketing certainly has the experienced team to help!

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Don’t Get Hung Up by Phony Microsoft Callers

Logo for ColesBBB serving Central Indiana, a Coles client, is urging consumers to hang up the phone if they get a call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft.

 

In this scam, the “Microsoft caller” randomly calls consumers and tells them their computer has a virus or needs updates. The consumer goes to their computer and starts following the instructions given. Then, the caller either asks for your credit card information so the consumer can “pay” for the needed software, or the caller says they will “fix” your computer if you follow these instructions.

 

Hang up on scammers

First, don’t give the caller your credit card number for this service because you will probably never receive it. Second, don’t follow their instructions. They could be putting malicious software on your computer or gaining access to your computer.

 

“This type of scam is common,” said Tim Maniscalo, president and CEO of BBB serving Central Indiana. “Don’t give your personal or credit card information to anyone over the phone, unless you know they are legitimate and need the information. Make sure to hang up on scammers.”

 

Microsoft has created a page on its website about this scam. It states, “Neither Microsoft nor our partners make unsolicited phone calls (also known as cold calls) to charge you for computer security or software fixes.”

 

Keep you and your information safe

Here are the tips from BBB on what to know about your computer:

  • If you are concerned your computer may be exposed to viruses or other security threats, contact your service provider directly. Some providers offer free tools that can help detect and remove viruses.
  • To help protect your computer from viruses, make sure you have virus detection software installed on your computer. This software can help identify if a virus appears on your computer.
  • Never give out personal information over the phone to someone you don’t know. If the caller claims there is a security threat to your computer, hang up and call your computer company directly.
  • If your computer does need repair, find a company you can trust by finding a BBB Accredited Business here.
  • To prevent these calls, register your phone number with the Indiana Attorney General’s Do Not Call List by calling 1-888-834-9969 or filling in this form: www.in.gov/attorneygeneral/2445.htm.

 

Be smart, follow your instinct

As always, never give personal information to unknown callers, and in this case, don’t give anyone access to your computer. Be smart, be on the defensive, ask questions and follow your instinct.

 

If you have received one of these calls, report it to the Indiana Attorney General’s Telephone Privacy Hotline at 1-888-834-9969.

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