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Proofreading tips to avoid grammar gremlins

In the world of public relations, communication is everything. Crafting compelling narratives and creating engaging content is our forte, but even the most skilled PR professionals can be tripped up by pesky grammar gremlins from time to time. These elusive creatures can sneak into our press releases, articles, and social media posts, undermining the credibility of our clients and our agency. To ensure that your published materials are polished and free of grammatical errors, we’ve compiled a list of essential proofreading tips that every PR professional should follow, whether automotive PR, classic car PR or tech PR and beyond.

First of all, it’s always helpful to have an external spell checker (like Grammarly) when writing, but never rely on it as a last line of defence before releasing work. They can be incredibly helpful in catching basic errors but they’re not foolproof as they may miss contextual issues or nuances specific to your PR content.

Secondly, proofread with a critical eye. Look for common grammatical pitfalls, such as subject-verb agreement, verb tense consistency, and proper comma usage. Pay close attention to homophones (words that sound the same but have different meanings), such as “their” and “there,” or “it’s” and “its.” Consistency is key, and maintaining consistency throughout your content is crucial for a professional image. Check that you’ve used the same style, tone, and formatting throughout your PR materials. Ensure that abbreviations, acronyms, and proper names are consistent, too.

This next tip is one of the best-known basic tips for proofreading; reading the document aloud. This is a tip that is often overlooked, but reading aloud can help with spotting errors, awkward phrasing or inconsistencies in tone, and even punctuation errors (pro tip: get your Mac / PC to read aloud for you, if necessary). Once the document is finished, and you have read it from top to bottom, take a break. When you’ve just finished writing a press release or a blog post, it’s easy to overlook mistakes because you’re too close to the content. Step away from your work for a while – even just 15 minutes can help. This break will allow you to return with a fresh perspective, making it easier to spot errors.

When finished with written work as well, proofreading on a hard copy is still best practice as proofreading on a screen can contribute to mistakes passing through due to eye fatigue (for environmental thought, print out a copy in the final stages of editing for paper conservation). Reading a hard copy with a different-coloured pen in hand also allows for instant changes that you can keep track of and always go back to for reference if needed.

Furthermore, always be mindful that individuals all work differently. Some may find they’re more productive in the mornings, whereas others may be more focused in the afternoons / evenings. Figuring out when you feel most alert and attentive is a good way to proofread and avoid burnout and feeling discouraged, and can ensure you always deliver work to the best of your ability. In addition to figuring out when you’re most productive, asking someone else to read over your work is also a great way to improve the final result of a document as getting a second pair of eyes to read over your work also ensures that the written content is clear, concise and makes sense from a someone else’s perspective. We at HBPR always ensure that every piece of work is proofread by various members of the team before being signed off and sent to the client for this exact reason.

In the world of public relations, grammar gremlins can tarnish your agency’s reputation and undermine the credibility of your clients. However, by following these proofreading tips, you can enhance the quality of your PR materials, ensuring they are free of grammatical errors and communicate your message effectively. Remember that proofreading is not just about catching mistakes; it’s about presenting your agency as a professional, reliable source of information in the ever-evolving PR landscape.

Here at HBPR, we are passionate about creating memorable content for each and every client, and unlike others, we don’t rely on retainers, instead preferring to work on a project-by-project basis to suit every need. If you’re looking for any input, have any questions relating to automotive PR, copywriting or are looking for some support for an upcoming project, please email us at hannah@hannahburgesspr.com. Our door is always open.

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