Spot the Typos

March 17, 2015 § Leave a comment

Here’s a piece of text with 10 typos. See if you can spot them all.

How to complain with class

There are some people who are never satisfied and who kick off at every opportunity. Then there are those who are as silent as a stealth bomber but when they blow, they really loose their rage.

Always try to be the latter. If you cry wolf to often people won’t listen when theres a real emergency. First stop and count to 10. Do you have ground for complaint? Be very friendly, present the problem and ask what they can do to assist you. You don’t want to alienate your target. Get them to empathize.

Complain in a slow, low voice. If you start at a screach you’ll have nothing to work up to. Never get too irate and don’t lose the sight of the fact that your the victim. Always get the name of the person who is not assisting you and ensure them you will be contacting their boss.

 

When you’ve noted down your answers, you can check them here

 

 

I could of screamed…

January 25, 2015 § Leave a comment

…when I realised how many people actually thought ‘of’ was the right word to put before ‘screamed’ in that sentence!

ZnfNk

We live in a world where there are so many opportunities (texts/Facebook, for example) for people to prove that they didn’t listen much in their English class – where the teacher would have taught them to write ‘have screamed’. Am I sounding a bit old-school? Can’t help it.

Another howler that drivers me bonkers is the mess that’s made with there, their and they’re. I’m not going to insult anyone by explaining what each of them means because I’m sure everyone knows, they just don’t bother to choose the right one and select any old right-sounding ‘there’ in the belief it will ‘do’ Well, it won’t – for me  or for many others who are particular about the language. Same muddle goes for too and to – two is stretching…

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You can’t call this marketing!

August 15, 2014 § Leave a comment

StressI mentioned the other day how difficult it is to unsubscribe from certain emails – some being more persistent than others. And I’ve found a real ‘pulling-your-hair-out’ corker here.

For starters the email is in Spanish so, not being a Spanish speaker, it’s of absolutely no use to me whatsoever. I thought I’d better finally unsubscribe rather than just delete because I’m getting an increasing number of these Spanish emails seemingly about different products. (I wouldn’t know, would I, cos I can’t talk the lingo.)

In fact I had to guess the ‘unsubscribe’ link which I did I was taken to a page that suddenly was a tad more helpful ONLY in that it translated for me.

But then…instead of the usual stuff (this may take blah,blah hours. Thank you for your patience, etc) I got this:

EMAIL TO UNSUBSCRIBE:

TO ENSURE THE PROPER MANAGEMENT OF ARCO RIGHTS (ACCESS, RECTIFICATION, CANCELLATION AND/OR APPOSITION) YOU SHOULD CONTACT THE DATABASE’S OWNER, WHOSE CONTACT DETAILS ARE PROVIDED BELOW.
UNSUBSCRIBE: BAJAS@ARKEERO.COM

Yes I have emailed and I haven’t received word back as yet – but just wanted to share. The cheek of it and really, what’s the point? Why am I on a foreign language marketing list – that wants to make it difficult for me to unsubscribe??

You can’t call this decent marketing – or marketing at all, actually.

What’s the best way to say Goodbye?

April 11, 2014 § Leave a comment

Do you have a standard sign-off for emails or do you vary it for each recipient?

I would guess that most of us throw out rules if we’re emailing friends or clients we know well but try to rely on a standard sign-off for anybody who falls into a more formal group. But thinking about it the other day, I realised I couldn’t be happy with mine because I’m always finding reason to fiddle with it.

What I mean by that is that I’ll write the email in a way that Many thanks makes sense as a finishing phrase or Speak soon because both of those seem friendlier than many of the alternatives. I’ll take you through them as I see them:

Very best wishes – I used to like ending with this but it so often sounds too overly sincere (and a bit dramatic, my brother would tell me) to someone I’ve spoken to only once;

Best wishes – that’s alright but a bit stiff however before anyone says anything, yes, I know I use this quite a bit;

Best – manly (I can’t really explain why I’m giving it a gender but I said this was how I saw it);

All the best – old-fashioned and somehow too ‘old’ to be coming from someone of my age;

Kind regards – faultless but I’m not sure it’s ‘me’ if you know what I mean;

Warm regards – twee;

Regards – to the point. I feel fine when I receive a ‘regards’  but signing off with one doesn’t come naturally;

Sincerely – not right for an email, not right for anything anymore – too formal;

Yours – same problem as ‘Sincerely’, just wrong;

Sincerely yours twice the problem of ‘Sincerely’ and ‘Yours’;

Take care – I like this, both for friends and for clients I know well. It’s not too overly personal but it’s friendly and I can imagine saying it at the end of a meeting which I think is a good test of a good sign-off;

Love – I write that on birthday cards (because I love the person I’m sending them to. The same can’t be said for all email recipients so it’s definitely not right.)

Name only – sometimes I might sign off with just my name, particularly if we’re having an ’email conversation’. Wishes of any kind start to make the messages look clumsy. Otherwise it looks lazy unless, of course, you know the recipient very well;

Initial only – rude;

Cheers – we’re doing business, not buying a round;

Smiley – absolutely no;

See you soon – you probably won’t, will you, so as a generic sign-off that can’t be appropriate;

Thanks for getting in touch – I like that;

Thanks so much for getting in touch – too needy;

Many thanks – a favourite but you’ve got to have something to thank the recipient for otherwise it doesn’t make sense. That’s why this blog started out with me saying I rewrite emails in order to be able to use this sign-off;

Speak soon – I also like this. If you’re emailing a client you know well you probably will speak soon. If you don’t know the client well yet, the sign-off reinforces the fact that you’re opening channels of communication.

So having run through many of the usual suspects I still haven’t found a sign-off I feel totally comfortable with. Something you might say at the end of a meeting (I’ve reconsidered) goes towards deciding your ideal sign-off but it’s not a standalone decider, is it, because nine out of 10 times you haven’t met the person at the receiving end of the email so the relationship is different.

Which means that even after giving the issue some proper thought I haven’t got anywhere with it (I know that for sure because I’ve answered a few emails as I’ve been typing.) Any suggestions will be gratefully received. There will be some (I know their names!) who will say I’m over-thinking the issue. I don’t agree. Every piece of communication goes towards your professional reputation and the way you close an email could be seen as smooth or awkward and that matters very much indeed.

What do you think?

 

 

 

Money for old rope – literally

February 17, 2014 § Leave a comment

The phrase ‘money for old rope’ stems from the days of public hangings, according to a game I was playing at the weekend. Actually I know that story’s up for debate but I like it so I’m going to believe it.

Legend goes that ghoulish spectators wanted to buy pieces of the rope used for the hanging as a sort of souvenir and it was regarded as a perk of the job for the hangman to sell it.

Another explanation has it that workers in the workhouse were given used and damaged rope to pick apart to salvage the good stuff to be spun into new rope. Possible but not nearly as interesting a story so I’m afraid I’m going to dismiss it in favour of the ‘hanging’ version. Any thoughts?

10 things I don’t like to see in print

February 4, 2014 § 1 Comment

Being a wordsmith it’s hard to read anything – and I mean ANYTHING, including a personal text message – without editing/proofing and trying to perfect it. I wonder if accountants add up stuff when they’re not ‘on duty’ – if you know what I mean? Anyway, here are 10 howlers I don’t like to see in print and always edit:

  1. The word ‘thing’. There’s always a better one – ‘thing’ is lazy and it’s the sort of word a six-year-old would use because they know no better. Adults should. (’10 howlers I don’t want to see in print’ – before you mention the headline, I did it on purpose.)
  2. Exclamation marks. They’re so over-used and look like excited full-stops. Perhaps it’s the overuse of them I really object to.
  3. Smiley faces and other emoticons. Just why? They look like something out of a comic.
  4. Text speak – even in texts it looks ridiculous. It takes hardly any longer to write the message properly and a message written properly carries a million times more weight and style.
  5. Apostrophes wrongly forced into plurals: 1960’s; fair do’s; loo’s. People seem to go loopy, particularly if a word ends in a vowel or a 0.
  6. Americanisms in British copy – gettoutahere. I don’t want to receive emails that start ‘Hey Julie’.
  7. The misuse of ie. and eg. Much of the stuff on this list is a matter of my taste. This one is hard fact, though, because ie. means: that is or in other words and eg. means: for example. They are simply not interchangeable.
  8. SENTENCES WRITTEN IN CAPS BECAUSE THE WRITER THINKS THE CONTENT IS SO VERY VERY IMPORTANT. Actually I tend not to read huge blocks of capped-up text so the writer’s ploy backfires on me. It looks as if the reader is being shouted at.
  9. Posh talk – laboured copy that isn’t written in a natural language but says ‘achieve’ when it means ‘get’ and ‘do not’ when it means ‘don’t’, for example. I write by the rule that if we don’t say it that way, we shouldn’t write it that way.
  10. Over and less. ‘Over’ is a position (over the hill/over the knee). When you’re talking plurals, it’s more than £5/more than five people. ‘Less’ is a quantifier for singular nouns (less time/less speed). Go plural and you need to use fewer than five items.

I could go on but the headline says 10 and it would drive me mad if the writer couldn’t be consistent with the number she’d set herself in the text, so I’m going to have to stop here.

People may forgive. They won’t forget

February 1, 2013 § 1 Comment

Have just had a debate with someone who was telling me that he writes his own website copy because he believes that customers will forgive the ‘odd spelling mistake’. After all, he pointed out, he’s not in the ‘words’ business. He’s a life coach.

I don’t get it. Here’s a man who wants us to trust him with our lives and he can’t be bothered to make sure his site’s spelt properly! Or that it’s grammatically correct, for that matter.

“Also, they know what I mean even if I’ve got an apostrophe in the wrong place,” James said. “You’re just being picky because it’s your business.”

I think that’s true – people will understand what his copy is saying. But the same people, in their search for a life coach, without question will be looking at several sites and because James thinks it’s acceptable to present his services complete with spelling and grammatical mistakes, he’s given them the impression that he’s a bit sloppy and not very professional.

They won’t forget that when they come across a site offering a similar level of life-coaching expertise, finished off properly with all apostrophes in the correct places!

“Of course you’d say that – you’re a copywriter,” he said.

No. Come on. Think about it.

There are two messages we (and I’m counting myself as a consumer here) usually get when we come across a badly written piece of marketing copy:

  1. The company is careless – and if it’s careless when it’s trying to sell itself what’s the rest of the service going to be like?
  2. The company couldn’t afford to get it right – that doesn’t bode well.

This is how my discussion with James ended: I’ve got a rough idea of what it takes to be a life coach but I wouldn’t attempt to do the job – he, on the other hand, has had serious training and can offer solid skills. I’ve had serious training as a copywriter and offer solid skills.

Your website is your online shop window, people judge you on how you present yourself and a copywriter can help you make the most of your presence. It’s not good enough just to have a website…the content is key.

And it’s corporate suicide if your (sic) getting you’re (sic) message messed up!!!!!

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