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Crown Office Typo Highlights Need for Proofreading Press Releases

A howler of a spelling mistake by the Scottish Crown Office has shown for the need for employing professional help when writing press releases, as it spelt the word “illegal” incorrectly twice on its website, and on the release issued to the media

The mistake appeared on the subject line of the press release and in its opening line, where it was written as “illgeal” in both cases. It has since been corrected on the organisation’s website. The story, concerning a trader prosecuted for the illegal storing of waste, has received very little media focus compared to the spelling mistake on the press release.

And that’s a shame because, despite the popularity of Twitter as a news gathering source, press releases are still a reliable way to get stories into the media, whether printed, broadcast or online . But, as this case shows, you have to do it properly. Starting with the basics of spelling and grammar.

There’s a few things you do to help eliminate spelling mistakes and grammatical errors in your press releases, and other forms of the written word. The first thing to do is simply spell check your work once you’ve finished. Make sure you set your spellchecker to the right region though, and select UK rather than American English. If you find any mistakes, don’t add them to the spellchecker’s dictionary or it won’t spot them next time!

Spell checking isn’t enough on its own though, as many words in the English Language sound the same but are spelt differently, like luck and look. It’s important you get these right in your press release as they’ll pass through a spellchecker without being flagged as wrong.

Read your words over and over again and edit where needed. Don’t just look out for typos. Think about paragraph construction and their order. Would one paragraph sound better at the beginning rather that the end or could you do away with it altogether? Read your press release aloud and print it out if this helps too, as mistakes are often easier to spot like this.  And don’t be afraid to ask someone else for their opinion or to proofread it for you. They will offer you an opinion you hadn’t thought of and find things you’ve missed.

There are loads of programmes available on the Internet too if you don’t want to use a friend or colleague or simply want another pair of virtual eyes to be cast over your words. Try www.checkyourtext.com or www.grammarly.com as these will point out where you’ve gone wrong. Be careful to use the right country again though as, like spellcheck, it gives you the choice of several different areas with differing ways of using language.

A final option is to use professional help.  Employing a freelance professional copywriter will guarantee your press release is written correctly, and is in the format the media likes. That way, your business story will be the news, not its poorly written press release.

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Nick Pagan