When editing and proofreading your marketing or PR material, you are eliminating the noise.
The result? Your customer will be less distracted by too many words, inaccurate information and, yes, spelling mistakes.
Proofreading your content will help your customers focus on and retain your message. Even if all you can manage is a single read-through, do proofread your text before the world gets its hands on it.
Here are our top three tips for priming and polishing your communications.
Check the important information first
Before you get caught up trying to remember where commas go, ask yourself:
Is all the information I’ve included correct?
Here, we’re thinking of things like:
- days, dates and times (Does ‘Wednesday, 16th July 2020’ sound off to you? It should because 16th July is a Thursday.)
- names of people, companies and products (Is Claire Smith really the Human Resources Manager? And, while we’re at it, are you sure it’s ‘Claire’ and not ‘Clare’?)
- places (This is especially important in event communications.)
- contact details (‘email@example.com’ won’t get a customer as far as ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’)
Skim through your text to catch this information separately, rather than when you’re reading your content as a whole. Otherwise, it’s all too easy to skip over these details.
It may sound odd or even counterintuitive but do read your content backwards – literally one word at a time from the end to the beginning. Doing so forces you to zone in on language errors rather than the meaning of the content.
When doing this the first time, it will feel like it takes forever. This is because you’re forcing yourself to slow down when reading.
At an average reading pace, our eyes skip ahead to the next word before we’ve even finished reading the one we’re on. This is how we miss typos and spelling mistakes (‘public’ vs ‘pubic’, ‘maketing’ vs ‘marketing’) and simply incorrect words (‘affect’ vs ‘effect’, anyone?).
Reading slowly – by focusing on each and every word – is simply not what our brains have been trained to do. Reading backwards can remedy this.
Don’t repeat yourself
Nothing triggers boredom quite like repetition. Cut those repeated words.
You may think that using repetition reiterates your point – and, this is certainly a writing device in long-form content – but your marketing material is no place for this. Keep your sentences short and punchy. And aim to express your message in as few words as possible.
More than anything else, this is a sign that you value your customer’s time.
The key takeaway
People DO judge a book by its cover.
You’ll soon learn what proofreading techniques work best for your kind of content. But, when you do, don’t get lazy.
You need to proofread all words you present to the public. Because whatever industry you’re in, you want to be remembered for your professionalism and not sloppy content. From a client’s perspective, poor-quality content = poor-quality service/product.
Are you ready to get started on creating a proofreading and editing framework for your content? Or do you just want someone else to do it? Get in touch with the WMA team today!