We’ve all heard stories of people who have been hired in their dream job, who show up the first day eager to blaze a trail in their careers and in some correspondence spell their boss’s or a higher-up executive’s name wrong, only to find themselves escorted off premises their belongings still in the box.
It doesn’t just happen in the movies.
Checking and double checking your work, copy editing, proofreading and going through your communications for CP Style may seem tedious, but they are the keys to professionalism and putting your best foot forward.
As an author, I’m acutely aware of having my name — my reputation — attached to a piece of writing. The same holds true in the corporate world. Whether you’re writing a formal report, communications plan, letter or memo, producing your best writing free of typos and grammatical errors is essential. It’s not just your name attached to a particular piece of work, but those of your superiors and the organization itself.
Some tips to keep in mind before hitting send or crossing a writing task off your to-do list:
- Always produce your best work. It’s essential to start with a solid foundation. Before you start editing, make sure you’ve done as many revisions as necessary to ensure you’ve produced your best work right from the start.
- Keep a copy of your dictionary and CP Stylebook handy. Whether you use hardcopies or pay for a subscription online, keeping your reference material handy will allow you to edit your work on the fly.
- Read it, read it again, read it out loud. Always reread your work before anyone else has a chance to find a mistake. Be proactive not reactive.
- Let it simmer. Walk away from your desk. Visit the water cooler. Giving your mind something else to focus on and then coming back to a piece of writing can open up a fresh perspective. Even a little distance can help you spot something you may have missed on the first read through.
- Software helpers. There are plenty of programs out there, like Grammarly or Hemingway Editor, to help you find errors you might have missed. But a note of caution: these are just helpful sidekicks. You need to do the heavy lifting first. They are not perfect and can overlook mistakes. If in doubt, go back to tips one and two.
In public relations, your reputation and your career depend on your ability to produce effective, efficient communications. Start off on the right foot. Ensure your work is free of errors and land your dream job.