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Bad Grammar Can Affect Your Brand, Your Career, Your Company

If you can’t write or spell worth a damn, your career can be adversely affected.

I’m not talking about the occasional typo or error that slips through unnoticed. I mean, if we’re being completely honest here, I still don’t understand the rule about who/whom, even after several people explained it to me yesterday.

Sign that has been edited to say Apostrophes Will Be Removed

Apostrophes are nearly never supposed to be used to pluralize anything, except for a single letter, like “Oakland A’s.” Otherwise, NEVER!

I’m talking about consistently making the same obvious mistakes over and over, like not knowing the difference between your/you’re, their/there, affect/effect, or my biggest pet peeve, its/it’s, and the general misuse of apostrophes.

There was an article in the Australian Herald-Sun last week about how poor spelling and grammar can negatively affect your career, company, and personal brand.

It’s a scary thought.

For the most part, we understand what people mean when they accidentally substitute “your” for “you’re,” as long as it’s an uncommon, if not rare thing.

But if it’s an ongoing problem, then you’re going to have a lot of issues and miss some great opportunities if you can’t get it under control.

It’s not just a problem here in the United States though. According to the Herald-Sun article, Public Relations Institute of Australia’s marketing director Kate Johns says many university graduates have a fundamental lack of understanding basic grammar principles.

“I think it has become one of these things; it’s considered attention to detail where it should be part of the fundamental process,” she told the Herald-Sun.

Think of it this way: if you receive a cover letter from a prospective employee filled with errors, would you hire that person? We live in a day where résumés are kicked out of the hiring process because of a single error — which is an arrogantly stupid reason to deny someone a job — so why do we stop expecting our employees to toe that line of perfection?

(Worse yet, why are prospective employees being dinged during the process by people who still think ‘s is used to pluralize words like “DVD’s”? It’s not. It never was.)

What sort of message are you sending to potential business partners when your initial email is riddled with grammar mistakes? What do you think potential clients think of you when your blog and website are overrun with spelling errors?

Hell, you just booted some poor kid out of your hiring process because he spelled “antidisestablishmentarianism” wrong, after he clicked on the “were hiring” link on your website. Why do you expect a potential partner or client to treat you any differently?

If you have a tenuous grasp on spelling and grammar, now is the time to consider working with a professional writer. Someone who understands language and can bend it to his or her will.

You may think you can’t afford a professional writer, but if you’ve got a website and blog posts that are filled with errors, you can’t afford not to have one. You’re turning off potential visitors. People are taking one look at your blog and leaving, never to return. What’s that doing to your sales?

Who knows how much it’s costing you in lost readers, lost opportunities, and lost business?


Photo credit: Infomatique (Flickr, Creative Commons)

About Erik Deckers

is a professional blogger and author of several social media books, including No Bullshit Social Media (Pearson, 2011) and Branding Yourself (Pearson, 2010). He is a professional speaker and consultant who works with companies on content marketing and blogging issues, as well as crisis communication and citizen journalism.

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