Thursday, December 31, 2009

When Typos Can Kill You

As nit-picky as I can be, I'll readily agree most typos (and even grammatical gaffes) aren't exactly dangerous. But here's an example of a typo that *only* almost grounded a plane on take-off. Seriously, it could have turned out worse.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Harnessing the Hungry Diner

Why hire a copywriter to handle your menu?

Because while anyone can describe food, it takes more than a dash of psychology to create a menu that will make diners hungry to open their wallets.

Let their be no mistake: copywriting is directly linked to profits.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Put a Bow on It (Grammar is Part of the Packaging)

Packaging fascinates me, from the myriad marketing issues (eye-catching strange shape or practical box for easy shelving?) to the technical considerations of shrink wrap. Let me be clear: on the style v. substance question, I pick substance every time. BUT.

Packaging problems can kill products.

And grammar, my friends, is part of the package. Consider this, from a help-wanted post:

"[name omitted] is one of the largest book publishers in the world. It's subsidiary [name omitted] publishes [blah-blah-blah]..."

Did you catch it? When it jumped off the screen at me, I promptly prepared to send in my offer to help this world-famous publisher PROOFREAD ITS OWN AD COPY.

Maybe I'm a little extra-sensitive these days, what with the holiday parties and all. Every seasonal gathering seems to require one of those "so what do you do?" conversations, and when I say, "I'm a writer" nine times out of ten, I hear "Oh really? Sometimes I think about being a writer..." and honest, I try to smile kindly. Because [dripping sarcasm] yeah, it's true, everybody can be a writer.

Now, before you give it a go, do me (and other poor unsuspecting readers out there) a favor: do a good job. Use the right word. Clean up the punctuation. Proofread for errors. And before you offer your gift of writing to the world, put a bow on it.

By that I mean, don't print, publish, or mail anything until it's your best stuff. The words you choose to describe your business, services, and products are your packaging, as much as cellophane or cardboard.

What kind of presentation are you making?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Is That the Write Word? Don't Blow It

Surely you've seen the spell-checker poem - and appreciated it because you understood too well the way that lovely tool can save your butt, or can it.

There are infinite variations on the spell-check ditty, and seemingly infinite ways we can mess up our communication. Choosing the almost-right word is one way that may lead to late-night chuckles, courtesy of Mr. Leno's headline bloopers - or, if you're not so lucky, can lead to litigation.

The following appeared in Paula Morrow's latest newsletter to her writing brethren. It was written by her business and life partner, Bob Morrow, and I post it here with permission. (Thanks, Paula and Bob.)

Ordnance is bombs and artillery shells.
The first is dropped, the second shot.
An ordinance is local law
And you're supposed to obey it, like it or not.


I get uptight when people - especially business people - are sloppy in professional communications. And while my clients really appreciate that, they're also well aware I'm not an artist. Fortunately for the art and craft of children's literature, Paula and Bob offer thorough critiques for first time and experienced authors. For more about their services, visit the website