Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Call to Social Proofing

People all over the world are flocking to social networking sites. The web has become one of the hottest mediums for marketing. Businesses are now switching their advertising efforts from TV, radio, and newspapers to Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace. While this opens the door for many people to be productive in the privacy and comfort of their own homes, another unwelcomed door is being forced open as well. Documents not only have to pass through a spelling and grammar check, but now they must be socially proofed. This refers to the correction of errors that come from typing as if on the web socially networking. At times, an overuse of acronyms, cut-off words, and abbreviations will creep onto some of my more important writings. Initially, I’m usually embarrassed, but when I consider the hours and days browsing other’s (even writer’s) pages, I see that I’m not alone. It appears the social bug has bitten even some of us wordsmiths. Perhaps someone will pitch an effective proposal to Microsoft to have them implement a social check which replaces “u” with you, “ur” with you are, “gonna” with going to, and just eliminates “LOL” altogether.

At Rasilliant Enterprises our goal goes beyond just your editorial needs, but we seek to help potential writers to hone in on an effective style and voice. One way to tarnish editorial credibility is for your document to host a bunch of avoidable grammar mistakes. Yes, this is an era of heightened social interaction, but let’s not allow the web to destroy the rudiments of correct grammar and style. I’m getting to the point where I toil over every nook and cranny of my Facebook statuses. That’s only because I’m committed to being consistent in style. One thing is for sure—I’ve developed a small audience. The last thing I want to do is ruin my rapport with my audience by dulling down my editorial voice to socially mingle. Twitter is an additional challenge as well. On top of being grammatically correct, you’ve also got to be concise. One Hundred and Forty characters leaves little margin for error and permits an immediate opinion on the presentation of style, grammar, and spelling skills. Tweet with caution, folks! Of course we all love the benefits of these great resources, but remember we’re still professionals who must never negate the importance of making a lasting first impression.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Writers—The Secret Weapon of Corporate America

I’ve often wondered, what has been the formula for my success in Corporate America. As much as it would please me to say my intelligence, that would be a lie. I’m no smarter than the next man—well maybe, a little… Rather, I’ve always recognized that it is my English Degree and my writing skills that set me apart as a stand-out employee. Writers by nature are excellent researchers. Possessing a commitment to evade unverified facts, it is a certainty that most writers have the innate ability to find accurate facts, and quickly. Project management is a given because of the many group projects we thrived on in college. Triaging work, managing workflow, even confronting the stifled go-getter isn’t a problem for us. We have been programmed to meet deadlines and we refuse to stop until a finished product is in our hands. Communication skills are both polished and ready for execution. Why? In our minds, we all house the world’s next best seller in our hard drive. If you want to hear an awesome speech, ask a writer to make a sales pitch of their manuscript-in-progress. After years of addressing target and intended audiences, we specialize in tone—be it formal or informal. We know how to address any audience and will do so with precision, proper content, and at the appropriate time, even humor. We are not only time-efficient, but our work is accurate. This means we will have little trouble meeting and exceeding quality and production standards. Spelling mistakes and grammar botches not only irritate us, they cause our skin to crawl. Want to ensure that your company’s publication is up-to-par? I dare you to unleash an English major as the second set of venomous eyes. Considering we had non-English classes to complete too, we multitasked miraculously in order to finish our non-important classes so we can return to our writing. Juggling many projects and shifting priority work in an instant seems to be a core competency for almost any job today. We too, are marketers. After convincing countless professors that our many writing projects are both feasible and relevant, it’s likely we could pitch the sale of a pastrami sandwich to a vegan! Though oftentimes we are compensated far less than we are worth, English Majors are versatile professionals ready to take on a broad spectrum of work. So if any of you HR managers ever see the attribute of English Major in the educational portion of a resume, know that you’ve found the weapon to your corporation’s success!

An Active Approach to Dismiss the Passive

While in undergrad, writing in passive voice was one of my ongoing struggles. For some reason, I was under the impression that variance was needed in sentence structure in order to display writing skill. Boy, was I clueless. I supposed that after a plethora of red markings and almost paragraphical passages, I began to see that I really had a struggle on my hand. I was only able to overcome passive writing by continuing to write. For those who may be unsure of what I mean by the active/passive voice, it is simply referring the positioning of the subject. A good analogy I used to help cure myself of this problem was "Don't let your subject be passively passed, but make it actively aggressive." Rule of thumb: don't allow your subject to be trampled upon by the verb, but MAKE it do something. With the exception of higher word count and longer sentences their are few benefits of writing in the passive voice, particularly in professionald and/or fiction writing. Consider the examples below.

It was decided upon by Jonathon to put his best foot forward. (passive)
Jonathan decided to put his place foot forward. (active)

Notice in this example that by making Jonathan the star of the sentence, we simply place Jonathan at the beginning of the sentence and allow the capable active verb "decided" to stand on its own.

Two more examples:

This morning, the cars were washed by the girls. (passive)
The girls washed the cars this morning. (active)

The English language will always be treasured by me. (passive)
I will always treasure the English language. (active)

Now, all of this isn't to say that the passive voice usage is not sometimes warranted, because it is. This is just an exercise to reinforce active writing. Exercising your ability to use the active voice makes for clearer ideas and more readable passages. So I implore you to get active in your pursuit to do away with passive phrases.

At Rasilliant Enterprises we are here to help you reach your highest level of clarity in writing and we have a solution to whatever your editorial need may be.

Have a great day!