The official blog of Nancy Marshall Communications
offering tips, techniques, and thoughts from Maine's PR Maven, Nancy Marshall

 

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Terrible Typos

Hello, Erika here!

My friend Grace and I were talking about ideas for work the other night and she started laughing as she told me about some of the typos she had seen in emails and documents she had received. We joked about auto correct and the fact that there are sites solely dedicated to people’s “clumsy thumbsies” as Ellen DeGeneres would say.

How many times have you accidentally texted someone something you didn’t mean to? I haven’t been involved in some of the incredibly embarrassing incidents above, but I have accidentally texted “I kiss you” instead of ‘I miss you.” I also told my sister once that “the dogs are dead” when I definitely meant, “the dogs are fed.” Typos happen, but how can you prevent them from making their way into your business?

I decided to share some common typos that frequently go unnoticed and include five fail-proof proofreading tricks—ways to make sure you don’t end up with a grammatical blunder on your hands.

If you work in public service then you are most likely already aware of the common missing “l” in many documents and emails, resulting in some “pubic” disasters. I have a friend that used to work for the New York Housing Authority and this was a commonly overlooked error in their office.

The simple misuse of your vs. you’re, or missing a comma can make a huge difference. If I say, “Let’s eat Julia,” it means something completely different than when I say, “Let’s eat, Julia.” People notice when grammatical errors are made. The other day at a meeting, I overheard a woman say, “Me and Kyle are planning…” and out of nowhere, the gentleman sitting next to me mumbles, “Kyle and I.”

My final example is not capitalizing when we should. When Time Magazine featured an article on Steve Jobs and Apple, they simply referred to him as “steve jobs.” A simple AP styling rule that I found myself rusty on was when to capitalize someone’s job title. When the title comes before the name, it is capitalized, but when it comes after their name, it is in lower case.

So how can you make sure you don’t make these simple grammatical errors? Here are my five tips.

  1. Read aloud
  2. Read backwards
  3. Take a break and re-read
  4. Use a second pair of eyes
  5. Always re-read before sending or posting

My friend Grace Zinnel and me in New York City

Grammar is complicated and AP guidelines are always changing because of the tools available to us. For example the term the Web now requires “web” to be capitalized because it encompasses and summarizes an entity, but a website is still lowercase because it is a smaller part of the Web.

I would recommend that you subscribe to the online AP Style Book or use the AP cheat sheet provided by Scribd. The cheat sheet isn’t as thorough as the complete style book, but it still provides the basics you need. If you really want to work on becoming an expert proofer you should subscribe to online mailing lists. Our proofing Queen, Dianne, swears by dailywritingtips.com and Grammar Girl, which both provide daily emails on various writing techniques, tools and tips.

When I first started at NMC, it had been a while since I had actually written in AP form. I had done it thousands of times in college, but working for different organizations with their own rules and ways of doing things had definitely formed some bad habits. I decided to get back to the basics and made it my mission to write better. I’m not perfect and Dianne can attest to my typos and grammatical errors, but using the right tools has helped me get better and now we joke that it’s only a matter of time before I get a document back without any red ink!

I hope that this week’s witty wisdom helps you, no matter what your skill level when it comes to writing and editing. After all, it never hurts to keep learning new skills and developing new good habits.

Bangor Humane Society Goes Social

Stacey Coventry, public relations manager for The Bangor Humane Society, poses with Anna, a resident pitbull.

Cue Sarah McLachlan and add in some big-eyed, adorable furry friends. Yes, most of you know which advertisement I am referring to and we all know how hard it can be to either; a. change the channel even though you desperately want to; or b. to change the channel fast enough because it makes us sad just to think about those fuzzy little fluff balls.

This week’s Monday Maine Maven, Stacey Coventry, can relate as the public relations manager for the Bangor Humane Society (BHS). She has always had an affinity for animals and two years ago she found her very own big-eyed, furry calling in an advertisement for an event and volunteer coordinator. She applied, and with her experience in journalism, sociology and nonprofit management, she was hired.

Coventry credits her previous experience and skills, coupled with her drive to meet the needs of the Bangor Humane Society, for her current role as the public relations manager. Her responsibilities include managing a Facebook page and website, writing and distributing press releases and newsletters, and educating the public on pet adoption.

When it comes to social media, Coventry says you should post daily about anything that might interest your audience adding, “We found people want to be in the ‘BHS adoption loop’ and we find the more we involve and communicate with them, both online and through our newsletter, about our success stories and how we are utilizing resources, the more support we receive.” She goes on to tell stories of how they have been in desperate need for supplies and after a post on Facebook the supplies were on their doorstep by the end of the day.

Stacey and two of her very own rescues, Nala (L) and Koda (R).

Another program that Coventry says contributed to the growing resources of the Bangor Humane Society was their partnership with the ASPCA Rachel Ray $100K Challenge. The contest was between 50 shelters across the country competing to break their own records in rescuing more dogs, cats, puppies and kittens between August and October than the previous year. Although they didn’t win the competition Coventry says, “Our adoptions continue to be up by 25% post-challenge and I receive 20 volunteer applications a week versus the 20 to 30 I used to receive in a month.”

The $100K challenge has inspired Stacey to start similar programs on a local level to increase awareness and adoptions for the Bangor Humane Society. They have a special ongoing adoption program for seniors 65+ and veterans, in which all adult dogs and cats are 50% off with a valid ID. Also, throughout the month of February, they will be running a Valentine’s promotion. All adult cats are $25 and adult dogs are between 10% and 50% off, depending on what Valentine card is on their kennel. Check out the video below to see some of the available dogs:

For those of you that are debating whether to adopt or buy from a breeder, Stacey says to consider that there are six to eight million abandoned and homeless pets brought into shelters each year and that they aren’t bad pets; they are victims of unfortunate circumstances. Coventry says, “I have two dogs and a cat that I rescued and I swear they know they’ve been rescued! They are the most loyal companions.”  Coventry adds that the benefits go beyond connection. Shelter pets are all vaccinated, behavior evaluated and spayed/neutered—not to mention that all money spent to adopt your new best friend goes toward rescuing another homeless pet. Coventry says, “Visit your local shelter and see which furry face adopts YOU—you won’t regret it.”

If you aren’t ready to adopt, but would still like to get involved you may mail your donation to:

693 Mt. Hope Avenue
Bangor, Maine 04401

Or you may donate by going online to www.bangorhumane.org , where you can also enroll in their kennel sponsor program or review the shelter wish list. To contact Stacey, you can email her at Stacey@bangorhumane.org or call her at 207-947-8902, ext. 103.