Archive for the 'Corrections' Category

The Devil is in the detail

April 13, 2008

My least favourite part of the job is writing contact reports. They are dull, pedantic and hugely annoying – however, they are pretty handy documents to have, so a necessary evil….I guess.

After many unsuccessful reports, I think I’ve come up with a few tips which should help ease the pain.

1.       Write notes on the agenda – short, concise and right next to the item on the agenda it corresponds to

2.       Write notes  in pencil – if like me you have messy handwriting, then it’s much easier to work out what the Hell you were trying to write if it is in pencil

3.       Read the ongoing status report (if you have one) and work from that as your basis

4.       Don’t go more than 24 hours following the meeting before writing it

5.       If you don’t catch something, make a note and then ask a colleague immediately after the meeting once the client has left

6.       Don’t daydream. As the junior member of the team you probably won’t be making too much of a noise during the meeting, so try to stick with it all the way

7.       Drink a cup of coffee directly before and after the meeting. Having one during the meeting leaves you open to missing a bit of crucial information. Not to mention providing the opportunity for you to pour coffee on someone’s lap……

8.       Ask to look at your colleague’s notes. They shouldn’t mind as in the end, it will save them time

9.        Allow yourself to become comfortable with using the phrase “action it”

10.   Proof, proof, proof, proof, proof. I actually don’t think there is anything more annoying than pouring that much effort into such a bland document only to have it fall at the final hurdle because of a typo. Annoying.

Pretty obvious really, but I wish someone had told me them 18 months ago!

Do all these things and you should have an air-tight report which you can happily send to your client.

I say ‘should’ because I am still waiting to write the perfect contact report. I’ve come close on a few occasions, but no cigar. My fascination with doing the perfect one has seen me ask a LOT of people if they have ever produced a contact report which never needed to be reviewed.

I take comfort in the fact that I am still asking.

Correction, I’m right

March 17, 2008

One of the most difficult things I found when I first entered into the PR industry was getting used to having work corrected. After several years in academia excelling in multiple essays, I was suddenly the class dunce when it came to writing documents. Whether it was pride, shock or simply embarrassment, I didn’t take it well. To begin with it really hurt my confidence and that was reflected in the work I did. I think it very much depends on how the senior member of the team dishes out the feedback, but no matter how it’s presented – someone is essentially telling you they think your work is toilet.

Early on I sat down with a colleague and asked them if they felt the same. They did and I was reassured that I wasn’t the only person suffering.

As time went on and I felt myself getting better at what I was doing, my work was still getting corrected. This time however it wasn’t silly mistakes like punctuation and grammar that was getting corrected, it was style and content. Many times I would look at my original press release and think: “fine, that looks good, I’m happy with it” only for it to be sent back with a massive amount of track changes. I scratched my head and wondered if I was cut out for this job after all, but I persevered.

Time went on and I grew in confidence due to my performance in other aspects of my job. Yet my written work was still getting corrected. Frustrating was not the word for it. I resolved to write the best damn by-lined article known to man and put my absolute heart and soul into it. Hours of painstaking drafting which, I ‘m embarrassed to say, stretched into the wee small hours resulted in an article which I felt was absolutely air-tight. With a pounding heart and sweaty palms I pressed send on the email with the article attached. As my manger ran the rule (well, ruler actually) over it, I found my eye creeping every time they got out their trusty red biro.

The article again came back and it was splattered with red – a massacre. My manager went through the corrections, explaining why they had been made and it hit me: “there was nothing wrong with the original; the changes were changes for the sake of changes!!!”

I looked over my version several times and was convinced it was strong enough without the corrections. Resigned to my junior position I made the changes and the article was sent.

But from that moment on, I never took that kind of criticism to heart ever again. When work is corrected now, I think to myself; “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and make the changes.

I also remind myself to look up the meaning of the word “justification”………………