The PRice of PooR writing

Ashan R. Hampton

True story: I once lost a well-paying client because an employee spelled his name wrong in a press release. The client interpreted the mistake as incompetence and fired our agency. He was right.

“Poor communication skills often leave bad impressions of you and your organization. One brochure with one little typo, widely distributed to various channels, can cost money and clients,” wrote teacher and author Ashan Hampton in Why Good Writing Matters. “Would you excuse away faulty writing with any number of justifications, such as, ‘Perhaps someone else wrote this message? Not everybody is a good writer, but they’re still good at what they do.’ As a result of this mode of thinking, many professions receive passes on bad writing, spelling and grammar. Who cares if they can write as long as (they are) successful?”

In iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens’ I won’t hire people who use poor grammar he wrote, “Applicants who don’t think writing is important are likely to think lots of other (important) things also aren’t important.”

Ashan Hampton made similar points:

1. Writing errors breed distrust. Hampton cites an article, “Bad Grammar is Bad for Business,” noting 59% of 1,029 people polled by Global Lingo said bad grammar and spelling errors would make them reconsider patronizing a website.

2. Writing errors suggest inattention to detail. “As a seasoned professional or budding entrepreneur, you will be judged on the quality of your writing in the business sector,” said Hampton. “This is especially true for job seekers. Many hiring managers toss resumes with even the slightest misstep in punctuation. Spelling or typographic errors are definite deal breakers.”

3. Writing errors intimate education levels. Hampton wrote, “Like it or not, written communication intimates your level of intelligence and thoughtfulness…Deficient writers are perceived as less than smart, whether or not this characterization is true or fair.”

I, too, tend to base my perception of a person’s competence by their written work. So seek out the countless online sources on good writing, including Ashan Hampton’s new YouTube site featuring writing tutorial videos geared toward K-12 and college students. Don’t let poor writing cost you. Your thoughts?



47 thoughts on “The PRice of PooR writing

  1. Gabriella Johns

    There is no room for poor grammar in the communications world. We are human, and people do make mistakes, but double checking, reading your work out loud and editing is crucial . I can defiantly relate to this situation because I do struggle with grammar and sentence structure, it is something that I have to practice and always have my eye open for. Today there are so many sources that can help writers with writing and grammar.

  2. Grace Finlayson

    Writing is extremely important when it comes to any profession. The attention to detail is shown in all of your written work even in emails. It is even important to read over your emails before they are sent. Your writing is also linked to your credibility and how people perceive your work and the work that you do for a particular client. There will be a time where people won’t be editing your work and expect that the documents you send to your clients, or send out for your clients are correct.

  3. Whitney Shepherd

    I think having poor grammar is obviously something that working professionals should not have, especially in the communication world. I use to think that poor grammar had nothing to do with someone as person and their work ethic, but as I have gotten older my views have changed. I do sometimes look at people differently who tend to criticize my grammar or spelling, but then often have spelling and grammar mistakes of their own. I agree to the point that in a professional setting not perfecting these skills does show a lack of attention to detail as well a lack of professionalism that should be corrected.

  4. Madison Wright

    Poor grammar and spelling are what make people turn away from certain websites. Great writing is a skill that all PR and Journalism majors should have. Also, proofreading is essential for a piece of content to be considered as legitimate

  5. Kassara McElroy

    I can’t help but think that a typo ruins a piece of writing. Though I am equally as likely to make an error on a paper as the next college student, I am well aware of the fact that it can tarnish my perception as a professional in the real world. I am proud to say that I don’t find grammar boring and prefer to double or even triple check before sending out a document. I think personally I need to work on allowing myself enough time to be able to do so.

  6. Sydney Seligman

    Although I find correct grammar to be important and a vital part of being a PR practitioner, I think firing someone over it is an extreme reaction. We are humans and humans make mistakes. If the issue or mistake happens more than once, then I would consider speaking with the agency or employee and expressing my frustration. I am always one for correctness and detail, but not to the extreme of firing at will.

  7. Gabby Sully

    I couldn’t imagine ever sending a press release or even an email with the wrong name a misspelled name; even grammatical errors. Proofreading is essential, especially now when we have tools like Grammarly that proofread everything.

  8. Hye Jennifer Im

    I am definitely a part of the “judge people by their grammar” camp. I have always been a stickler for proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation. I am a regular Grammar Nazi. As I began integrating into the work force, I, too, noticed the lack of respect for the English language, especially in the form of emails. Certainly, in-office communication doesn’t need to be especially formal and proper. However, the casual and terse nature of these emails have often resulted in my confusion. This, in turn, resulted in more emails requiring the other party to reiterate their point and wasting more time. I truly wish more people would respect the art of writing, as it is an integral part of EVERY field.

  9. Tyler Weatherly

    Writing and accuracy are not only a reflection of our competence but of our interest and investment in a given subject, which is exactly why it is important within the realm of public relations. It is one of our duties to our clients to pay attention to everything we do, say, and write with and for them not only to adequately represent them but represent ourselves to them. Although it is easy to make simple mistakes, grammar is imperative – always double and triple check and even have a fresh set of eyes quadruple check. There really is no room for mistakes.

  10. Sara Fox

    I agree. Especially because PR requires so much written communication, it’s crucial that everything from press releases to quick emails be pristine. While interning over the summer, I was asked to write a summary of a company event last minute. While the piece was being reviewed for publication by higher-ups over a conference call, they picked up on a spelling error. I was mortified and from that moment on, I recognized the impression that carelessness leaves on others and the importance of proofreading.

  11. Anwar Ahmad

    I’ve always been the type to get extremely frustrated when I see a typo or error after my writing has been printed or handed in. Writing errors and typos can most certainly lead to bad first impressions. If you can’t pay attention to detail or write properly, then why are you writing. Why should people invest their money if they are not going to get quality work? It is completely understandable that employers won’t hire people who have grammatical errors in their resume. Something as simple as a resume should not have any errors. I completely agree with this article and that people should be strict with grammar.

  12. Bianca Kroening

    Content creators battle so many things – distractions, short attention spans, and other competing news outlets – when trying to reach their audience. It’s been proven again and again that a glaring spelling or grammatical error is a quick and easy way to turn the reader off. It’s also become much easier to check if your spelling and grammar are correct. With a quick installation of a Firefox or Chrome plugin, you can ensure that any email, press release, etc. that you send out will be free of errors. Especially in the world of PR and communications, write well, and all the rest will follow.

  13. Elana Delafraz

    I always respected professors that were hard on my grammar and spelling. If it was not for them I do not think I would be disciplined enough to write a well versed press release or pitch letter. Working at note-worthy companies has given me even a stronger backbone to proof read my work before I send it to my boss. I think it is significantly important to be concise and spell the name of the person who is paying you (dramatic pause) correctly. Also, in this generation, people are too casual about the way they write. They rarely proof read what they write in an important email. To me it takes time and a lot of practice. Sometimes, it is okay to make mistakes, but it is better to keep that in the classroom than on a press release to your client. That is purely the reason why I have so much respect for teachers that are strict graders. So, thank you!

  14. Haley Moffatt

    Grammar to me is one of the most important aspects of someone’s identity. The ability to write well and communicate in different ways is an important skill that everyone should have, but most neglect to actually have. The way you write is sometimes the first time you present yourself to someone in PR, when you’re pitching, you reach out to a reporter via email- writing. Press releases communicate information to a large mass of people- writing. There are so many different facets of PR where writing is mainly utilized and it is one of the most fundamental tools we have. Moreover, writing poorly will steer away clients very quickly, and it makes sense that your agency lost a client over the misspelling of a name- errors are frustrating and annoying! I completely agree that good grammar is at the heart of being a good writer, and writing is such a fundamental in PR that it has to be priority for everyone.

  15. Dianne Fallucca

    I would have to agree that writing errors will influence my opinion or even my first impression of an organization or business. It is crucial in all practices of business to be sure that we are paying attention to even the small details. As Hampton says above, “poor communication skills leave behind a bad impression.” I find myself passing judgement on stores with misspelled signage in the windows. I can’t help but to think if the organization is not paying attention to the things in plain sight, the projects and tasks that require more thought must also fall to the wayside. Therefore, my trust in the business has been lost, and as a result, so has my business.

    Over my time studying PR, I have made sure that I don’t ever run into this problem with my own material. As someone who is getting ready to enter the work force in just a few months, I am highly concerned with my writing skills and always checking to be sure that my work is flawless. After several conversations with potential employers and others in the industry, I have found that many people feel entry-level writing skills have depleted. I don’t want to be on the wrong side of this problem!

  16. Julie Dietel

    I too believe that strong writing skills are of the upmost importance but what rivals that is editing skills. Little mistakes happen all the time, but the ability to catch and correct them before sending, releasing, or posting your work is what is important. PR people work to protect image and in my opinion when there are mistakes in someone’s writing it reads as lazy or that you don’t care. Writing skills prove that you are a strong communicator and it is a red flag if someone does not possess them.

  17. liad zayit

    Writing errors are crucial not only in communications, but it is for everyone. Today we mainly communicate through emails. Therefore, it is very important that people know how to conduct themselves in a professional manner. Not only is it important to have good grammar over email but also over social media. Whenever I see grammatical errors especially in a big company it makes me think differently of that company.

    1. Alexandra Halbert

      I definitely agree with this post. Good writing skills are important in any career. In public relations especially, writing skills will either make you or break you. Your writing reflects both you and your company/client. Avoiding costly mistakes is as easy as having someone proof read your work. If you’re rushing, you’re more likely to make an error. Always take your time and check your work; precautions are wise. When it comes to proper grammar and correct spelling, you’re either safe or sorry.

  18. Marielle McCartin

    I agree with this post. Having good writing skills is important for all aspects of building a career. When applying for an internship, a first job, or while holding a position at a job, it is important to make sure all writing is grammatically correct. If an employer sees that the writing is poor, the quality of the work will be demeaned as well. My Dad has told me many times that whenever he his hiring new employees for his job, if he sees one spelling or grammatical mistake in a resume, cover letter, or email, the application is put right in the trash.

  19. Awilda

    Writing errors within the communication field is unacceptable. Throughout my college experience I have learned the importance of proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation. As a public relations student, I understand the importance of being able to catch your own mistakes before anyone else does. Your writing can show those reading your work how much time and effort you have put into your piece. I remember when applying to my dream internship at Northwell Health, the hiring manager spoke to my public relations class and told us that as soon as she finds an error she immediately tosses the resume into the garbage. She doesn’t even think twice about it. I really wanted this internship, so reviewed my resume over a million times and sent it out to friends and family to review it for me. After all the hard work that went into my resume and application, I can happily say that it was all worth it because I now am interning within the communications department at Northwell Health.

  20. Emily Bravo

    I am not the best writer. I do sometimes have a hard time with grammar. When I first came to Hofstra, I went to the Writing Center a few times. They helped me for my WSC001 and 002 classes. As a journalism major, my writing must be excellent. I always try to read NYT. My professors says it helps kids write better when you read good writing. When I sift through my internship’s emails, I do come across PR releases. If I spot misspellings, which are more common than you think, I press DELETE.

  21. Stephanie Rubbino

    Good grammar is imperative in public relations. When someone does not have good grammar is reflects poorly on them. Some may view it as lazy and careless. People should look over their work and also have someone else look over it as well so silly mistakes such as having ones name spelled wrong wouldn’t cause someone to end up losing their job.

  22. Sarah Hanlon

    One of my biggest fears when it comes to finding a job is having a grammar or spelling mistake on my resume. I understand that good writing, especially in the communications field, is the most important skill – and it’s one that you cannot afford to mess up. I agree with the idea that poor writing is a bad reflection of a company. While we are all human, one simply cannot afford to have a mistake in their writing, especially in a press release or a piece about a client. PR professionals must take all precautions necessary when it comes to sending out written pieces with no errors.

  23. RHwang

    I have to say that writing and speaking are the most important skills that you must dominate in this industry. Even if you don’t, I think it is essential to double and even triple check if necessary. For instance, when I am looking for articles for a research paper, I expect my sites to have perfect grammar and spelling because then I believe that they are not reliable.

  24. wendy timana

    I am a HUGE believer in proper grammar. When I see grammar errors on documents, pamphlets, websites, etc., I assume that the creators do not care that much about their end result. Poor writing should not be excused even if the content is good. Attention to detail is key to success. When I see that the POTUS has spelling mistakes in his tweets, it reinforces my opinion that he does everything half ass. If he can’t even write a 140 character tweet correctly, how can we trust him to run our government? I know personally when I write emails or even texts to my employers or professors, I make sure to read them a couple of times to check for mistakes. It is important to write properly in order to maintain a level of professionalism. It is honestly not that hard to review a paper or even an email given the tools we have with our computers.

  25. Madeline Myslow

    I went to Catholic school for most of my life, which for some reason meant that I had grammar class on top of literature classes and that grammar rules were instilled in me from an early age. I remember thinking to myself that learning grammar was a waste of time and being jealous that my public school friends never had any grammar homework. It took me years, but I have now realized the profound importance of developing sharp writing and grammar skills early on. I have seen countless ads with grammar, punctuation, and usage errors (among many others), where the wrong their/there/they’re or your/you’re is used, and the ads become laughable. If one does not learn the rules of grammar properly, he or she runs the risk of jeopardizing a job opportunity in this day and age where jobs are difficult to come by. Sharp writing skills are imperative in the working world in general, but are especially imperative in professions like marketing, advertising, and of course, public relations.

  26. Brier Davis

    I couldn’t agree more with all these points. Writing is a good reflection of a person’s attention to detail and shows how much they care about what they are doing. It is easy to tell when someone has written something thoughtful versus a quick and cheap message or email.
    I recently had auto correct make me look pretty stupid while sending an email, it is important to triple check everything and I sure learned my lesson about that.

  27. Christina Shackett

    The way that someone writes reflects upon themselves whether we like to think so or not. Personally, on a peer editing level, it is incredibly off-putting to meet someone and then read their writing. If they are using incorrect grammar and structure, it becomes a barrier that makes me not want to communicate with them at all. If we allow incorrect grammar to become an obstacle in communication, it poorly reflects upon us. On a professional level, these obstacles absolutely can and will cost you a job.

  28. Briana Cunningham

    Writing is such an important skill that tells a lot about a person. When I receive an email or document with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors it makes me wonder if the person doesn’t know how to write, put no attention toward the details or just didn’t care. Either way, it’s not a good impression to make. Even small mistakes like, as the example described, when someone spells my name wrong. When I send an email with my name spelled properly and the response is “Hi Brianna,” it makes me think the person does not care about our exchange. Not to mention how lazy and unprofessional it comes across, especially when it happens repeatedly. I am particilarly perturbed when people do not use proper grammar and punctuation on social media. Putting something on the Internet is opening it up to be seen by so many individuals. You would think people would proofread what they are posting. But instead, I suppose because it is not a “professional document,” people find it okay to ramble, which makes them seem less educated. I do understand that mistakes happen every once in a while, but honestly, as a young professional, I know that I can’t afford a mistake, no matter how small.

  29. Brittany Liscoe

    I completely understand where professionals are coming from when they say that use of proper grammar and punctuation can cost them their clients and reputation. Whenever I find a spelling error in an article or any piece of writing I automatically assume the information is not reliable. I assume that no one checked the piece of work and therefore no one else reviewed the information that was being presented.

  30. Sam Bussell

    Before coming to college I didn’t realize the incredible impact writing would have on my life. Every class that I have taken so far has involved writing some kind of paper, wether it’d be writing an analysis for a film we just watched for Cinema Studies class or writing about the beginning of the universe and what it means to us, writing has been at the center of it all. Coming out of high school I wasn’t the best writer and I thought going into college I wouldn’t need to know or improve on it since my major didn’t really require a lot of writing, but I was dead wrong about that assumption. Writing has been a highlight of my college career so far, when I received papers from professors I saw that I needed to improve on both my spelling and Grammar. PR is one of the prime examples of if you don’t have your spelling down then you aren’t going to survive in the business.

  31. Daniela Gagliano

    In the midst of fake news and unreliable sources, there’s so much skepticism when it comes to reading an article. A typo in an article is immediately a flag of judgement and criticism to a reader. If a reader can take the time to thoroughly sit through an article and pick up a typo- then the writer is at fault for not catching it first. A typo in a published work reflects carelessness and a reader will quickly think “this person must not care about their job/their writing.” That within itself denotes the writer may also be arrogant and/or untrustworthy. If they cannot take the time to proofread their article correctly, what should make the reader think the facts were properly checked? The sources properly cited? The story properly approved and fact checked by the editor?

  32. Ben Martin

    I completely agree with everything stated in this post. I personally judge people very heavily for how they speak and write, even with something as simple as a text. In my opinion, if you do not care enough to go back and fix your mistakes, especially on social media, you probably don’t care enough to pay attention to detail. What this translates to, in my eyes, is that you are probably unreliable and therefore I shouldn’t waste much energy trying to acquaint with you. I think it is very fair for a company, or employer, to test those they work with on their writing skill because often there is only one chance to make an impression, and in print or post, you have to make that impression good. Business is a cut-throat game and grammar and spelling mistakes can be a dagger slashing down a once prestigious reputation.

  33. Erik P Hansen

    I definitely agree that the quality of one’s writing and grammar is utterly essential in the field of Public Relations. This is a field that requires the utmost precision and carefulness; even a single misspoken sentence or word could completely tarnish the reputation of a client. If someone isn’t careful enough to do something as minor as checking their grammar and spelling, how could one be trusted to serve as a representation of ones reputation?

  34. Brandi Hutchinson

    I am a firm believer that good grammar is extremely important. If I personally saw something (say a press release for example) and there was typos, I wouldn’t take the press release seriously nor the person/company who wrote it. It’s extremely unprofessional and should not be tolerated. I agree that someone’s competence is shown from their written work. It’s their work/grammar is sloppy, it makes me think that he/she didn’t really spend that much time on their work.

  35. Neil A. Carousso

    Writing and proper grammar is essential for public relations success. Frankly, in any communications field, people must be strong writers as communicators. Writing is the foundation for everything in communications whether PR or broadcast news.

  36. Emily Walsh

    Good writing skills are not only important for communications, but it is vital for every field in the workforce. Especially in a time where emails are the main source of communication, it is important that people know how to conduct themselves in an eloquent manner. Whether it’s a post on social media or an email to a colleague, whenever I see a grammatical error, I tend to think less of that person. Of course, mistakes happen, but overall it is important to read over your words. It’s better to be safe than sorry when dealing with grammar!

  37. Hannah Thueson

    Writing errors are inexcusable in anything, because they are completely avoidable. When you have spelling or writing errors in your work, it says that you didn’t care enough about the assignment or job to bother reviewing and editing your work. It points to laziness in other areas of your life as well. For example if an news agency reads a press release with spelling mistakes or errors in grammar, they may see laziness in not only this instance, but might also wonder how far this laziness and unprofessionalism bleeds into other aspects of your job.

  38. Elliot Rubin

    I wholeheartedly agree that proper writing and grammar are essential tools one must have if they plan on having a successful career. No matter the career, if someone does not pay careful attention to their writing, it will likely come off poorly, projecting a negative image of that person. As someone who is on the job hunt right now, I recognize the importance of proofreading, and I heavily scrutinize each email, document, and resume that goes to any potential employer/contact person, professor, or anyone else.

    Additionally, as a media and news aficionado, I definitely relate to, and fully agree with the first point Ashan Hampton made. In order to be well-balanced, I try to get my news from as many sources as possible. However, if when I check a source there are typos and grammar errors, I might not necessarily stop reading the article, however I definitely would take the source less seriously than I would if it did not have these errors. Writing with typos and errors, whether you are writing on behalf of yourself or your brand hurts your credibility, so therefore it is vital that before you send or submit anything, it is thoroughly proofread.

  39. Michael Mastropierro

    Writing is very important. One little spelling or grammar mistake will distract the reader and make them forget about the point you were trying to make. Writing errors are seen as unprofessional, careless, and unintelligent. Having a writing error on a press release, business card, or resume is a fatal mistake that one can’t make.

  40. Samantha Storms

    Throughout high school, it became apparent that teachers seemed to care less about the mechanics of writing in favor of comprehension and understanding of the material. The truth is, there just isn’t enough time during a school day. In the business world, it’s clear that good writing skills are a universal requirement and touch all sectors of the industry. Students would benefit from an earlier concentration on the development of stronger writing skills rather than postponing such education until later on in their academic careers.

  41. Courtney Grieco

    Ashan Hampton brings up multiple good points on why correct use of grammar and spelling is important. I definitely agree with all of her points however the one that stood out to me most was the direct correlation between poor grammar and education level. Without even realizing we do it, I tend to always judge someones intelligence on grammatical errors. I can’t help but ask myself, how do they not see the mistake? Which directly leads me to think the writer must not pay much attention to detail and is most likely a lazy individual. All of these negative thoughts can be the direct result of a misspelled word.

  42. Nicole Lamanna

    I definitely think good grammar is imperative. It shows the people who we’re communicating with that we are effective communicators. In the field of public relations, effective communication is paramount. I agree with Ashan Hampton’s points regarding the consequences of poor grammar. Without proper grammar, the message we’re trying to disseminate to our publics would suffer.

  43. Haylee Pollack

    I agree, the way you write reflects both your intelligence and interest in the work you are doing. That is why whenever I am writing copy for social media such as at my job or in my personal life, I always have someone else read it over before posting. Getting a second set of eyes on something is always a good idea because sometimes you don’t notice mistakes in your own writing.

  44. Alyssa Scott

    I agree that writing and grammar are extremely important in this profession. Poor grammar suggests inattention to detail, and this harms one’s reputation with a client and potential clients. There are so many sources out there for writing and grammar, that there really is no excuse for errors. Personally, I can’t help but judge people on social media who constantly are misspelling words, let alone those who misspell the name of a well paying client.

  45. Marli Delaney

    I agree with the fact that written incompetence will result in setbacks and in extreme cases termination of a job. I felt like I could relate this to a situation I was in a couple of weeks ago where I emailed a professor regarding about an interview opportunity and he emailed back asking some questions; the email I responded with, however, I had totally botched because I quickly typed it out before a class and autocorrect performed inaccurate magic to what I had said. A week later I thought, “hmm I wonder why I haven’t heard back,” and checked back on our conversation- I was horrified and embarrassed when I saw how bad the email came out (it autocorrected the professor’s name to be spelled incorrectly and some of my response didn’t make grammatical sense). I quickly emailed him back apologizing and being honest about what had happened there and luckily received an email back the next day and things are okay! But yeah definitely make sure to double-check what you write out even if it’s a little email because depending on who you’re working with, everything can be important.


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