My friend Abby and I were recently discussing the fact that so far, neither of us have received friend requests from people we don’t know on Facebook. Myspace is notorious for strangers adding “friends” to increase their friend count or have more people they can send spam to. However, Facebook still has maintained its innocence as a way to add friends and colleagues from the past and present, rather than to randomly search out new friends.
That night, I got home and checked my Facebook account as part of my nightly ritual. Lo and behold, there in my inbox is a message from “Becky Smith” (name changed to protect the sender). I don’t know a Becky Smith, but I read the message anyway. Maybe it’s a friend of someone I do know, or a fellow UMASS graduate whose name I don’t recognize.
And then I laughed.
Basically, Becky is writing to tell me about a contest for assistants working in the Boston area. I can nominate myself for this contest by writing in to a website to tell them why I am the best assistant in the Boston area, and if I win, there’s a whole package of “pampering” prizes.
Oh the irony – I’ve been pitched!
Becky, it becomes clear, works for the PR firm that represents company running the contest. She probably did a search on the social networking site for all members with “Boston” and “assistant” in their profile. Since my Facebook account states my job as the assistant at our office, and I work in Boston, my profile must’ve popped up.
What’s funny is that as a PR professional, I know the drill all too well. In fact, lately I have spending a good chunk of my workday pitching to bloggers and other social media writers. So I cut Becky some slack and decide to check out the client site. Who knows, maybe it will actually be worthwhile for me.
The client is a local limo company. They have a link to the contest page on their homepage, so I go to the page to read the details of the contest. Unfortunately, here’s where they lose me:
- To prove that I’m the best assistant in town, I simply have to send in a short essay to explain why. First of all, this is such a tired and dreary method of contest entry. What about a video clip showing me at my finest? Or some kind of photo op? An essay contest is so stale and tired. Second, there’s the glaringly obvious point that if I am such a fantastic assistant, I am going to be way too busy supporting my boss to have time to sit down and write a paper.
- The prizes include a free limo ride to a spa in Boston’s Back Bay, plus a free stay at the Langham Hotel in Boston. Well, I work in Boston, and I’m there on the weekends, so it’s not really a getaway destination. Plus, what building is located directly across the street from my office? Oh yeah, the Langham Hotel. Nothing says take a break from your crazy workday with a stay at a hotel where you can see your office from your room.
- But this one was the killer: according to the prize list, you get to enjoy the sights of “Boton.” That’s right, Boton. Unless Mumbles Menino recently enacted a city name change that I didn’t catch in the Globe, the last time I checked, the city was called Boston.
So all of the factors above, combined with the fact that it was pitched to me from someone that I don’t know on Facebook (such a no-no according to social media etiquette), made the entire contest and company lose all credibility.
What hurts the most is the typo on the client website. From my experience at our office, at least 5 people proof everything before it even gets sent to the client, never mind posted on the web for the world to see. Please, Becky Smith’s firm, run spellcheck! Any Word program would instantly red flag that typo, especially there is no other similar word it would confuse with it. Affect and effect is one thing. Boton and Boston is a whole ‘nother.
This is not the first time I’ve seen such a glaring typo. I recently was invited to a webinar by a well-known and highly credible organization in the PR world. The subject was simply “Your invited!” I was probably one of oh, I don’t know, at least a thousand recipients. I actually had to share the priceless email with my coworkers as a “hey, let’s never do this” suggestion. (For those of you who are not as nerdy about grammar as I am, the form of “your” that they used is possessive, so it’s showing that “invited” belongs to me. The correct word would be “you’re,” which is the contraction of “you are.”)
Bad Pitch Blog is a great source of typos and other blatant errors that journalists and bloggers receive from various PR pitches. My favorite was one that wrote “public relations” and forgot the “L” in the first word. Yum, hairy interaction!
So what’s the point of all this?
- First, know your audience. Hip and fantastic assistants in a trendy city like Boston don’t have the interest or time to write a contest about why they’re awesome from the suggestion of someone they don’t know on Facebook.
- Second, check your spelling! In this day and age of texting and Tweeting, shorthand is becoming increasingly accepted in more places than ever. However, if you’re trying to make a client look good, the classic rules of spelling and grammar still apply. No wha I’m sayin? 😉
*NOTE: I apologize if this post contains any typos. 🙂 Photo credit: http://www.typolover.com