We have shared musings on grammar fails a few times on the site, particularly as it pertains to journalism, because our friends in the newsroom deserve much better from us.
PR pros should be known for both sharing insightful stories and writing them in an insightful manner. You know, writing a solid pitch while exhibiting your knowledge of mail merges, usage of dangling participles, and showing your aversion to homophones.
To help our friends in both industries, we’ve put together a list of the some of the most commonly misspelled words to ever occur in a PR pitch, according to our colleagues, journalists, and assignment desk editors.
These are in no particular order other than they all belong on the list. Take notes. Please?
1. Millennium. It has taken at least 1,000 years for people to figure out that this word has two Ls and two Ns.
2. Believe. Most of us have a sense of faith in our lives, so this won’t be comfortable to read: There is always a “LIE” in believe. Get over the sentiment and spell it right.
3. Precede. To succeed something means to come next. So, the word should be what, again? That’s right: p-r-e-c-e-d-e, which means to come before. However, proceed means to go forward. Clear as mud? It’ll get better.
4. Gist. This is the main part of something, as in, the gist of your pitch is about this story. One small problem: g and j are pretty close together, and jist makes you look not too smart.
5. Questionnaire. Most journalists and bloggers love the data coming from a nice one of these, but when you forget both Ns or the silent e, it doesn’t help wanting said data.
6. Changeable. In the evolving world of PR, many facets of your client’s industry are always on the move. Must like the e crammed in the middle of this word in many of those press releases. Same rule? Judgement.
7. Pastime. Looks funny just sitting there, doesn’t it? No double S or double T; yet, there it is. Many sports PR pros butcher this one discussing the “great American pastime.” This word means to pass the time. Many journalists just pass.
8. Misogyny. With the rise of a certain presidential candidate, this word comes up a lot now. The thing is if you hate the guys, don’t take it out on the word describing them. Spelling deserves respect.
9. A lot. No, not “allot,” as in divide something into right sizes. This is a common issue that needs a little space — as in one in between a and lot. Or, you could remember that a lot is something farmers use, so PRs should use something else. (BTW, see a while for the same rule.)
10. Immigrate. There is this Trump guy who is talking a lot about undocumented individuals (see what we did there). Only many supporters don’t know immigrate is going to a country and emigrate is leaving a country.
11. Restaurateur. You have a client in the food service industry. In fact, one of your clients is a chef who owns locations known as restaurants. However, as owner, he or she doesn’t possess an extra N in that word.
12. maintenance. If your cyber or tech client has a press release to discuss what’s under maintenance, remember that client is your “main tenant.” Maybe that will help your pitch not forcing spam.
13. Flesh. A word as easy as something synonymous with skin shouldn’t create confusion. But adding “out” to it really adds question marks. If you flesh out something, you give it substance. If you flush out something, you are bringing something in the open or in a bus bathroom … and that’s not something we care to discuss.
14. Occurrence. This word is easy to trip people up, but no reason to send it over incorrectly in a pitch. The word has double Cs and Rs, and does not end in -ance. It is -ence, which means a quality or condition.
15. Its. This is commonly screwed up in releases and pitches because of a little apostrophe. Its is the possessive of it. Add the contraction and you have it is or it has.
16. Principal. For most teachers, your boss is a “pal.” That’s the secret. And rules end with “le,” so let that be the principle when it comes to differentiating these two words.
17. Compliment. If you want journalists and bloggers to do this about your writing, do not mix this word up with the homophone complement. If you use that form of the word, it would not “complement” your writing skills.
18. Perspective. This word usually used to discuss a client’s point of view is fine to use in a pitch, with one exception — you need to know each prospective word used must be used correctly. As in, the former is a noun and the latter is an adjective.
19. Apparent. Ironically, we get this from writers in a life section or the metro desk — as in, discussing families. Touchy-feely pitches include this word like a lot or a while. Unfortunately, spelling it correctly isn’t apparent.
20. Humorous. In closing, here’s something funny. There is an extra o in this word, so please “humor us” all and spell it right the next time.
[PHOTO CREDIT: AP Photo/News & Record, Joseph Rodriguez]