Overlooking small details can be a big mistake for PR professionals. Misspellings, bad links and poor planning can erode your credibility with clients, coworkers and bosses.

Here are 10 ways to help you catch mistakes before they affect your career:

  1. Start at step one. Review all of the input before getting started on a project.  Be sure you know where the main focus should be and what the goal is before putting your pen to paper.
  2. Back to basics. Spell the company name right. This sounds really simple, but mistakes do happen. Add your company or client’s name to your Microsoft Word dictionary to avoid the embarrassment of a simple misspelling. Learn how through Microsoft Support.
  3. Go out in style. A style guide can help you and your coworkers produce consistent work that gets it right every time, such as standard wording for a disclaimer or a phrase that’s always capitalized. To save even more time and effort, you can copy and paste often-used verbiage from a style guide to help you avoid typing mistakes.
  4. Let Me Google That For You. Does the product require a ™ or ® mark? Do you have the entire company name? Google will become your best friend for making sure the details are correct.
  5. Kill a few trees. Print out every piece of work you produce and review before passing it on to the next level. Your eyes could be glazing over small mistakes on the computer screen. If you feel guilty, plant a few saplings and be sure to recycle your bad drafts.
  6. Save the comments and criticism. The best way to learn is from your own mistakes. Keep notes on things you often forget to do or have done incorrectly in the past.
  7. Think like Jason Bourne. Don’t trust anyone or anything. People may inadvertently give you the wrong number or a misspelled name. Always double check information or compare it against valid sources, even when the information comes directly from the client.
  8. Don’t become the weakest link. Try out every Web address to be sure it goes to the appropriate place, whether it’s a Web page or e-mail. If you’re working on a print piece, type in the exact address shown to check it out – even if it looks correct and you know exactly where it leads.
  9. Be personally responsible. Do you assume that someone else will check the links? Do you hope someone else caught any potential spelling errors? Never assume and double check everything to ensure its correctness.
  10. There are no stupid questions. But, try to find the answer yourself first. There’s no shame in asking questions, but it’ll save everyone time if you try to find the answer yourself. (Go back to No. 1 and 4 to learn how.)

Small, simple details are the easiest to miss. And, they may affect your credibility more than one big, unexpected mistake. Detail-orientation is an acquired skill. By paying close attention to the work you do, the things your produce will be more thorough. The devil is in the details.

One Comment »

  1. Good topic! Attention to detail is a very underrated skill. :)

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About

Rachel M. Esterline works in public relations and marketing communications. Her blog, ExPRessions, contains her musings about PR, marketing, career and professional development, Gen Y issues, personal branding and more. Rachel also does freelance consulting and writing. She is originally from Genesee, Mich., and will graduate from Central Michigan University in May 2010.