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?

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