The Comma Mama

by | May 25, 2018 | Miller Davis Blog

I get called names like “Comma Mama” on a regular basis because of my tendency to edit everything I see. I take it as a compliment, although it brands me as a bit of a fossil – after all, the days are long gone when spelling and grammar were top of mind to the general population. Teenage texters decided ages ago that vowels were too much trouble and punctuation was a waste of time. But in the marketing world, spelling and grammar do still matter.

In advertising and marketing, you can’t afford typographical errors and other mistakes that erode your credibility. In print and online, including your websites, email blasts, social media and more, distributing content that is well-written, concise and clean helps you build trust for your own brand and the brands of your clients.

What do you think when you recognize an obvious typo? Whether it’s in an everyday email, on a website, in a magazine or on a billboard, don’t you wonder, “How did THAT happen?” “Whose job was it to catch that, and what wrath did that person face?” While you’re thinking all that, you’re distracted from whatever product and message the marketing was trying to convey. Those advertising dollars were lost, because you didn’t absorb the message and you probably lost some respect for the company. And you can be sure the marketing agency handling the account suffered for the error.

Of course, some mistakes are worse than others. Sometimes, it’s just the Comma Mamas that will notice a mistake. Other times, the “oops” goes viral and becomes a joke that stands the test of time.

During my days as a newspaper reporter, a co-worker gave me a pad of Post-It notes that said, “Proofread to see if you any words out.” I kept those on my desk for years as a reminder to be vigilant about editing. But as much as an editorial staff tries to help each other catch mistakes before they make it into print, you can be sure that many a copy editor’s day has been ruined by a little carelessness with the word “shirt.”

The bottom line is, taking the extra time to check for errors makes life a whole lot easier in the long run. Whether you’re creating original content or producing marketing collateral from someone else’s copy, proofread, proofread, and proofread again.

While spellcheck is great, it can’t take the place of paying attention to your content. Be aware of these obvious errors that crop up constantly and make sure you know the correct usage:

– It’s/its
– You’re/Your
– Then/Than
– They’re/Their/There
– Loose/Lose
– A lot/Alot
– Effect/Affect
– Smiths/Smith’s/Smiths’

You’ll be surprised at the little things you’ll be able to catch if you read back over what you’ve written. If you don’t have a proofer’s eye, ask someone else to check behind you. Don’t take the chance that your audience and clients will conclude that you do mediocre work, or that mistakes skew your ability to get the SEO results and audience impact you want.


A Little Bit About… Jan

A Little Bit About… Jan

Jan is a digital marketing specialist at Miller Davis. Having previously worked for the agency, she returned in 2018 after holding communications and marketing roles at Delhaize America/Food Lion and Monarch. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she is now “UNC Mom” to her son and daughter (to the dismay of her N.C. State-educated husband).  Jan lives in Kannapolis with her husband and their rescue dog and cat, as well as a “spirited” guinea pig that is up for adoption to anyone remotely interested.

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