Saturday, November 30, 2013

Writing Good: Common Mistakes - Copywriting for Business, Online and Social Media

The English language can be very odd when you take a look at it. I mean, consider a word like ‘thought’, which doesn’t look like it should be pronounced the way it is. The spelling is similar to the word ‘through’ although even that word sounds the same as ‘threw’, which has a completely different meaning. No wonder people from other countries have trouble understanding or learning English or that we see images of those badly translated signs from around the world. Nevertheless, that’s no excuse for what sometimes seems like pure laziness in the use of the language by English speakers that we witness so often today in the business world and elsewhere.

For example, if employees are informed that something will be to their company’s advantage or will benefit the employees personally, it is often described as being an added bonus. However, this is actually nonsense, since a bonus already represents something extra. Another commonly used word is irregardless, as in ‘irregardless of the consequences, we’re going ahead with the project’, or something similar to that. Adding ‘less’ to the end of the word already makes it negative. It doesn’t need the ‘ir’ added at the beginning to make it even more negative.

Some people actually ask their employees after a meeting ‘what learnings can we take from this?’ They simply don’t seem to realize that what they mean to say is ‘what have we learned from this?’ or perhaps ‘what lessons have we learned?’ which would be correct uses of the language. Here are a couple of other phrases that have crept into the corporate environment in recent years. ‘What’s the ask here?’ or ‘what are we tasked with?’ are presumably supposed to mean ‘what are we being asked to do here?’ And of course these two wonderful expressions can even be combined as ‘we’ve been tasked with the ask of ...’, which is just wrong, in so many ways.

Maybe this material is only for internal consumption or inter-office memos, but whether in the small office or in a large government building, someone, somewhere, is cringing when they read this stuff. Plus if this type of thing finds its way onto company websites and blogs, it’s obviously accessible to a far wider audience and can be very detrimental. People will assume your lack of attention to detail is reflected in your products and services and you’ll never even know why you’re losing business. This is where a professional web copywriter can help you. 

I have extensive experience in writing for a wide range of industries and markets. Contact me directly for details of rates and fees regarding copywriting services.

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