Proofread your messages for more than misspelled words

proofreading tipsOne method for achieving a trusting relationship with your target  audience is to consistently provide them with information that is relevant and error free. Technology has made publishing this sort of marketing content quicker and easier than ever–but this can be both a blessing and a curse. In their haste to publish content, many marketers have failed to follow proper proofreading protocols which has lead to the appearance of numerous, relationship eroding errors. Spell-checking software is being relied upon far too heavily–even exclusively–for proofreading purposes. Yet checking for spelling errors is only one step in the proofreading process. Checking for grammatical and factual accuracy are tasks that are equally as important–and ideally should be performed by more than one person.

The Importance of Checking Semantics

Sometimes, we inadvertently commit errors of semantics by using the wrong words to express ourselves. Just this morning, I was reading this article on Entrepreneur.com and discovered an error in the first sentence. The author uses the word “each” instead of “teach” when referencing a class that he instructs at a college. In my eyes, the author’s credibility is diminished by this mistake. Spell-checking software would not have caught this error, because “each” is a valid word in the database. This is an embarrassing proofreading fail that could have easily been prevented.

Another error I came across recently was within a message posted by a remodeling contractor on Houzz. They expressed how “humbly and graciously honored” they were for having received a Best of Houzz award. The thought the contractor was trying to convey–that they were humbled by being recognized with such an illustrious award–was poorly worded. Had this post been proofread properly, the error could have been avoided. As it stands, what should have been a feel-good announcement was instead reduced to a very awkward statement that reflects poorly on their communication skills.

Check Your Facts

Incorporating relevant statistics in marketing content is a common practice. Executed correctly, this approach helps to strengthen whatever position you may be asserting. On the other hand, failing to fact check those references can also damage your reputation when errors are published. Ironically, a well-publicized #factcheckfail example comes to us courtesy of the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2014, Justice Scalia published a dissenting opinion that included a factual error and it created quite a stir. Read this insightful piece about the scandal published by The Washington Post. This regrettable error not only tarnished the reputation of a distinguished member of the Supreme Court, it gave Justice Scalia’s critics plenty of fuel for their fires. Think about how your competitors might attempt to capitalize on a similar error in your marketing materials. In the wrong hands, an innocent error can become a weapon that can easily be used against you.

And then, of course, there are the legal risks associated with knowingly publishing false and inaccurate information, just ask Newsday.

Proofread Carefully to Preserve Your Reputation and Relationships

Errors in your marketing messages can damage your credibility and undermine your relationships with clients. To prevent these errors, have one or more people proof your marketing content prior to publication. Your proofreaders should check carefully for proper spelling, and grammatical and factual accuracy, as well. By consistently providing your customers with well-crafted, accurate content related to your products and services, you will enhance your brand and strengthen your position as a trusted resource.

My Proofreading Failed. What Now?

Even with proofreaders in place, mistakes and errors will happen occasionally. Don’t fret. It happens to the best of brands. For a good laugh, check out this compilation of famous marketing fails courtesy of Unbounce. The good news is that your clients are likely to forgive you the occasional error, so long as you humbly acknowledge the mistake with a quick correction and a gracious apology.

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