Friday, June 25, 2010

Keep It Clean and Tidy

There is so much available to read as social media continues to expand but, unfortunately, a lot of it is riddled and marred by bad spelling and poor grammar.

To me, rightly or otherwise, such factors indicate a sloppiness and a questionable attitude to detail, particularly in the world of business.

But when I re-read the words in my second paragraph I realise that it is a somewhat harsh attitude, unforgiving and set in stone. Maybe I need to lighten up. Yes?

I am always annoyed if I find I have sent an email or draft News Release or letter to a client – or anyone for that matter – with a typo in it. And it does happen. In texts, too, I’ve slipped up.

Thankfully, I'm not a serial offender but I'm hard on myself when mistakes occur. They look so bad. Sometimes my head is about three or four words ahead of my fingers so typos and misplaced words do up crop – see that?

Among the worst offenders, I've found, are those who submit, speculatively, requests for positions in my company or work placements. Their CVs can be riddled with errors and some even manage to spell my name wrong - or should that be wrongly? For good measure, some even muck up their own email addresses, or end with a chirpy (and I’m not kidding): “Hope to here from you in due coarse.”

There are errors galore on the social media sites I read and, no doubt, it’s down to people wanting to respond quickly to something or other. That, I suppose, is understandable. However, nothing wrong with checking a message before sending it, is there?

One fellow PR person I know wrote a single sentence Tweet recently that couldn’t have had more blunders in it if she’d tried. Two spelling mistakes, an inaccurate hotel name and the classic “it’s” misused – and all in 140 characters.

Like others, I find computer spell checks fairly ineffective so I open my dictionary frequently. A by-product of this is that you come across words you’ve never seen before and maybe will never have the opportunity to use.

Simple spelling errors and grammatical mistakes aside – they’re not life-threatening, after all and none of us is perfect – I also have a problem with swear words in Tweets or on Facebook and the likes, even the words with ** in them, as if that makes them less offensive.

I’m no prude. Having worked in national newspaper newsrooms for 25 years or more, the language used could make a building site labourer blush, and that’s just from the women.

On TV, too, swearing is commonplace and I don’t mean just on the sports’ pitches. Comedians have been swearing their way through gags for years and the good ones – Billy Connolly, for example – make it almost an art form, which doesn’t appeal to one and all, necessarily.

Most of those guilty of swearing, it must be said, are those hiding behind anonymity, but it has been sneaking in to other business forums as well.

As social media is a way of starting conversations, dialogue, finding advocates for businesses, foul language really has no place, in my book. No-one in their right mind would submit a proposal, for example, littered with four-letter words of the sweary kind.

In a public forum, in print and online and for all the world to see, I think swearing is a no-no and most folk, it has to be said, keep it clean.

Am I being pedantic and too fussy, too squeaky clean and prudish, out-of-touch or spot-on? Let me know – and no swearing, if you please.

And, of course, fingers are now crossed that there are no spelling mistakes, literals or words missed out in this bolg. I have chequed.