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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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Categories: 2014 May Newsletter, Newsletters | Tags: Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It’s Time to Blog Already!

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Excuses, excuses. “I don’t have any good ideas.” “It takes up too much time.” “It serves no purpose.” These are all possible excuses why your organization hasn’t started writing a blog.

 

Tiffany Whisner

Tiffany Whisner

But I certainly was not surprised to read this article by Alex Taub about the number one reason why people don’t blog: they are afraid their writing isn’t any good. Taub says people are worried others will be critical of their writing.

 

In his article, Derek Halpern says that according to one source, there are more than 164 million blogs, and the majority of those blogs are, for lack of a better word, failures. Often, they fail because people start their blog with good intentions but end up wasting their time, doing the wrong things and quitting.

 

Some blogging time wasters include:

  • Creating too much content
  • Promoting content the wrong way
  • Creating a “me too” blog

 

So, if you’re not confident in your writing skills, and you don’t want to waste your time, what can you do to create a great blog? Good writing does matter, as Mark Schaefer says in his article. But he also has some tips on how anyone can start to create quality content for their organization.

 

  1. Read it out loud. Literally read your blog posts aloud before publishing. Make sure everything rolls off the tongue in a natural and conversational way.
  2. Cut, cut, cut. Many posts are far too wordy. Eliminate every word and sentence that does not move the story along. If your post is more than 1,000 words … danger ahead!
  3. Write upside down. Start with the conclusion, and then explain it. Too many posts do not get to the guts of the issue until you are one-third down the page.
  4. The beginning matters. Spend time creating an accurate, interesting headline. Also, create an opening sentence that grabs people and makes them want to read what you have to say.
  5. Get another view. Do you have a colleague who can write? Why not run posts by them to help you improve?
  6. Don’t just write; rewrite. Let your blog post sit a few days. But you can’t let it sit there until it is ‘perfect’ because that will never happen. The most important trait of a successful blogger is having the courage to push the publish button.
  7. Get help. If you don’t enjoy writing, you probably won’t enjoy blogging. But there may certainly still be a desire and a legitimate business reason to blog. So, help a colleague help you. Provide a purpose statement for a blog post and some major bullet points, and ask a writing-friendly colleague to work his or her magic.
  8. Start. Starting is the hard part, but to become a competent blogger, there is no choice. Almost anyone can be a successful blogger with the right framework, dedication and attitude.

 

Start a blog for your company today! And if you’re looking for a wordsmith or two to help along the way, the Coles team would love to be your go-to content connoisseurs. Just let us know!

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Categories: 2013 August Newsletter, Newsletters | Tags: Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,