Leslie J. Thompson

Dynamic Writer and Speaker with a Background in Journalism, Marketing Communications and Ghostwriting

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Entries from May 2008

The Dangers of DIY Marketing

May 20th, 2008 ·

Recently, I received an inquiry from a company in Dallas about writing a marketing brochure to illustrate how the firm’s services can benefit Human Resources professionals. I called the company president to discuss the project, and he in turn offered to email me PDFs of the firm’s existing marketing collateral as background material.

bmup.jpgI read through the sell sheets with despair. The writing was riddled with grammatical errors, and the formatting was woefully inconsistent. These types of mistakes are bad no matter what business you’re in, but this company was promoting its expertise in the area of regulatory compliance, where attention to detail is essential. Were I a prospective client, I would have had a pretty poor impression of the vendor.

Such is the risk of writing your own marketing materials. Sure, you could find someone in-house to take ownership of the project, but that doesn’t mean they’re qualified to do the job well.

As a freelance consultant, I was in a predicament. Should I tell the client about the typos and bad grammar in the firm’s collateral, or just provide the proposal he had requested? If I didn’t raise a flag and then didn’t get the assignment, the client would never know that his sell sheets, well…suck. But, if I brought it to his attention, I ran the risk of offending the company president–essentially shooting myself in the foot. For all I knew, he wrote the brochures himself. At the very least, he had read them.

I decided to send the proposal first and, once it was accepted, I would offer to copyedit the text in the firm’s existing marketing materials to ensure consistency. I have learned that unsolicited advice generally comes off as criticism. My goal is to first build a relationship with the client, not build a wall between us.

But, my point is that if you want to save money by creating your collateral in-house, you would be wise to at least hire a proofreader to bring the text up to par. The finished product may not be as spiffy as if you had engaged a freelance writer, but at least you will save yourself the embarrassment of airing your grammatical dirty laundry for your prospects to see.

As the saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression.

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Tags: Random Musings

For the Love of Punctuation

May 2nd, 2008 ·

It is one of life’s great ironies that God paired me – a meticulous grammarian – with my husband, whose spelling is, shall we say, creative.

A talented singer and musician, my spouse is an auditory thinker. He is a gifted writer and types at lightning speed, but often, he instinctually spells words based on the way they sound. The approach works well for locutions like “market” or “record”, but is less effective with a word like, well, “locution”.

I try not to tease him about his creative constructs, but he gladly kids me about my anal-retentive approach to text. (Admittedly, I have been known to gripe about typos on menus and instruction manuals with dangling participles.) So, I was both relieved and comforted when I recently discovered a group of like-minded wordsmiths at The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar (SPOGG, for short).

The following excerpt from the SPOGG Website captures the humor and vision of its creators, and offers a warm welcome to those with a punctilious personality like mine:

There are huge problems in this world, and then there are problems that can be solved by everyday people with red pens and a little moxie.

The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar is for pen-toters appalled by wanton displays of Bad English. (And we’re not talking about Bad English, the band, although their song “Heaven is a 4 letter word” needs a hyphen.)

SPOGG is for people who crave good, clean English — sentences cast well and punctuated correctly. It’s about clarity. And who knows how many of the world’s huge problems could be solved if we had a little more of that?

Cute SPOGG T-shirtAh, at last a refuge from this crazy, mixed-up world of text messages and linguistic short-hand! A safe haven from the jargon of Fortune 500 companies and verbosity of new media ventures! A place where people appreciate crisp, uncluttered writing, and members are lauded for their use of proper punctuation. I can find solace in the blog posts, and vicariously vent my frustration at the lack of good grammar usage in modern society.

Plus, they have really cute T-shirts.

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Tags: Random Musings