Dangers of Cut & Paste

September 26, 2017

by Roger Pynn

I always feel bad when I’m reviewing résumés and come across an applicant who self-eliminates with a stupid mistake.  I feel bad because I long ago decided it isn’t my job to teach someone to read what they write before sticking it in the mail.

Today’s example was a chap who appeared to be a pretty good fit for a job we have open (see description below if you are someone interested in joining a really good PR firm that demands excellence of itself to provide excellent service to excellent clients).  However, he sent a cover letter along with his résumé and some writing samples in which he clearly had cut and pasted a paragraph from another cover letter he’s using in his job search.

His opening paragraph was OK: I am writing to express my interest in the position of Communication Specialist with Curley & Pynn. As a communications professional with over a decade of experience reaching out to the public I know what it takes to get people talking.

But two paragraphs down things went south: I will love to be able to bring my assets to The Florida Bar Foundation as your next Marketing Coordinator and Social Media Coordinator.  I am excited about this opportunity and welcome the opportunity to discuss with you my credentials. Please contact me to arrange an interview. I look forward to meeting you and thank you for your consideration.

No … the boldface and underlines were not his, but added for emphasis.  I just wanted to make sure you saw it.  I let slide that this guy actually said, “I will love to be able to …”  Lord, this guy has a college degree!  Albeit, from an online school I’ve never heard of before.  He positions himself as a Seasoned bilingual communications professional experienced in network, cable and local news, with both English-language and Spanish-language speaking audiences.

Now … to the real reason I wrote this post.  We’re looking for good talent.  Please see below, email us or pass the word.  Extra points to those that get our name right.


It’s time to stop “working” and start getting paid to do what you love.  At Curley & Pynn – The Strategic Firm®, our award-winning team of creative thinkers is excited to offer you this opportunity.  As a communications specialist, you can do big things in an environment that will challenge you to contribute 100 percent every day, while empowering you to succeed.

Our specialists play a critical role in the implementation of communications strategies for clients from varied industries.  No two days are the same at Curley & Pynn, but there are several things you can expect to do:

  • Research, research, research.  It’s the bedrock of every communications plan.
  • Write compelling stories about our clients, their products and services for news releases, blogs, social media posts and more.
  • Publicize those stories by pitching them to news media, developing eye-catching collateral, planning and executing events, and more.
  • Brainstorm new and innovative ideas that bring our strategies to life.

What you need:

  • Bachelor’s degree in communications, marketing, public relations, journalism or a related field.
  • Overwhelming desire to grow your career.
  • Writing skills stronger than the Hulk.
  • Annoying obsession with details.
  • No fear to call a reporter, get rejected and call again.
  • Confidence to raise your hand and take responsibility for new projects.
  • Penchant for to-do lists and ability to juggle.

Ideally, you’ve had some on-the-job experience and are ready for the next step in your career.  Solid internships and a high level of maturity go a long way, too.  Experience with graphic design and digital marketing will earn you bonus points.

What we have:

  • Experienced, friendly and enthusiastic mentors who will always have your back and are invested in helping you grow.
  • Long-standing relationships with some of Florida’s most well-respected organizations, including globally recognized brands.
  • Generous benefits:  a competitive salary, health benefits, three weeks of paid vacation time, financial support for professional development activities and reimbursement for continuing education.
  • Work-hard, play-hard mentality, which often leads to cookie breaks, birthday celebrations, happy hour and more.

Interested?  Email your resume, writing samples and a meaningful cover letter to Dan Ward at dward@thestrategicfirm.com.  In your cover letter, tell us which of the Five Steps to Professional Success you have applied on the job.


The Proof About Proofing

December 27, 2016

by Roger Pynn

We all make mistakes.  My pastor reminded us of that in his sermon on Christmas Eve.  He also reminded us that forgiveness is important.

So is taking responsibility.

Just as you can’t rely on a spell-check utility in your word processor to proof your work, a priest in Sri Lanka learned that you can’t count on a “young boy” you ask to download lyrics to be sure he got the right song.

As CNN reported, the priest wanted the words to the traditional Christian prayer “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee,” for printing in the program for a Christmas carol service.  Instead, churchgoers found the lyrics to rapper Tupac Shakur’s trashy “Hail Mary.

I hope, Father Da Silva, whose apology included laying blame on the young boy, remembers that the buck stops here.  Proofing is an art almost lost for many – as I found out when I caught a typo in our family Christmas card after Shutterfly had already shipped it to us.  It was my fault.


Is Editing Dead?

June 30, 2015

by Ashley Tinstman

This morning, I was reading a news article online, when I noticed that the writer had missed a very big error:  the exact same sentence was written in the story twice.  As I continued reading, I came across a few other sentences that had typos as well—missing words, grammatical errors, misspellings, you name it.  By the time I got halfway through the article, I had grown so annoyed that I quit reading it and thought, “How did nobody catch this?”

Then, as I thought about it for another minute, I realized just how often I had been seeing these major typos lately.  And it’s not just one newspaper or website—I’ve noticed it happening more frequently in a number of publications.

Personally, I am a big stickler when it comes to grammar and attention to detail in my writing, so I initially dismissed my frustration as me being too nitpicky.  But once I started seeing this trend on an almost-daily basis, I had to wonder, “Is editing dead?”

As I’m sure many of you all remember, there was once a time when journalists were very serious about putting out a polished product.  But since the emergence of the 24-hour news cycle, it seems that the rush to be the first and the fastest to get the story has trumped the importance of editing and proofreading that story.

Of course, this isn’t true for every publication, but it has unfortunately become a somewhat common trend among media.  However, for public relations professionals, this should serve as a reminder that editing is equally as important in our line of work—and it should never be a practice that falls by the wayside.

Similar to the media, our industry is very much a deadline-driven world.  It’s fast-paced, and in that kind of environment, it’s easy to let the quality of our work slip.

So, if you’re one who’s prone to typos and grammatical errors in the name of rushing, take the 10 extra minutes next time to read through your work—or have someone else give it a second look.  It could be the difference between sending the client a polished product and something that’s less than your best.

And if you’re ever unsure about how to write something, try consulting your AP Stylebook or Grammar Girl, who I am convinced knows everything there is to know about grammar.


Grammar is Everything

June 23, 2015

by Connie Gonzalez

We’ve all been to school and learned grammar.  From this learning experience, some of us take pride in the way we write.  Some … could use a little extra help.

When I began working for Curley & Pynn, I realized just how important grammar is.  And 13 years later I still feel the same way.  People do not take pride in their writing anymore and social media is no exception.  I cringe when I see misspelled words or misuse of a common word that was taught in elementary school.  Grammerly has a great page on Facebook that posts funny, but helpful, ways to teach/remind people how to properly write, post or express what they are trying to say.

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Even punctuation and phrases are a problem.  I often wonder why people don’t take the time to learn the correct usage.

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I’ve learned a lot from working at C&P.  My job consists of a variety of things, but proofreading is a main requirement.  On a daily basis, I can be tasked to proofread news releases, letters and magazines to name a few.  But it doesn’t stop there.  I take that proofreading skill into my personal life.  I wish more people could have that same learning experience.

I have definitely made my mistakes, but the good thing about mistakes is we learn from them.  I’m thankful for my learning experience as it continues to grow.


Grammar Fail

February 24, 2011

by Julie Primrose

I live in an apartment near a large commercial area and often come home to restaurant take-out menus or retail fliers stuck in my door. Most of the time, they get tossed on my kitchen counter and thrown out a few days later.

Last night, though, I came home to find this tied to my door handle:


It was an invitation to attend a renewal party at my apartment complex and I read the whole thing several times over in disbelief. As if the blatant grammatical error on the front wasn’t enough, the rest of the invitation was peppered with equally obvious mistakes. The whole thing made me want to cancel my lease early and move rather than attend a renewal party.

The point of my rant is that little details make a big difference. In the amount of time it took to find that frog Clip Art, someone could have proofed the document for grammatical errors. Something as simple as an invitation can really hurt your credibility if it’s not taken seriously.


Its That Prufreeding Thyme Agin

November 16, 2010

by Dan Ward

Now that copy editors have gone the way of the Dodo bird, I find myself reminiscing about college proofreading exercises every time I read a news story.

No, I’m not picking on my hometown paper (again). It seems like any news article I read, in print or online, contains more and more mistakes.

I realize that there are fewer people to edit copy nowadays, but proofreading and editing should be the job of everyone in the news business (and in any communications field).

Each grammatical error, each spelling mistake, each missing word kicks the reader out of the story. You find yourself focusing on the writer rather than the subject matter he or she is trying to describe.

Proofreading is so important to us that we often have applicants complete a proofreading exercise during interviews. From now on, we might just hand them a red pen and a newspaper.


O stands for Oops

October 4, 2010

Guest Post by John Marini

Let’s face it, no one likes to have their mistakes pointed out.  But, if you want your message to be received, it’s critical you turn to someone who can spot your faults.  I’m not talking about brown shoes with black pants; I’m talking about the value of proofreading. Grammatical mistakes and typos in the communications industry are an easy way to lose credibility very fast.

Although my children have outgrown it, I keep a book that serves as a reminder of the importance of proofreading.  “Rhyming ABC,” by Fisher Price, is a hardbound children’s book.  Each letter is accompanied by rhyming words so preschoolers can begin associating words with those letters and in turn start learning the alphabet.  Trouble is, the author did not know their own ABCs or something went wrong in the editing process because the copy I have skips over the letter O.  There are no pages missing; there is just no mention of the letter O.

I wonder what kind of process the publisher had in place to catch such errors before that mistake was made and what policies may have been instituted as a result.

The adage about legal representation that says “He who represents himself has a fool for a client,” is akin to someone proofing their own work.  It should only be done as a last resort, no matter how good you are.

I came face-to-face with numerous examples recently while helping my wife sort through cover letters and resumes for a job she was looking to fill.  There were candidates that may have been qualified to do the job but were eliminated from consideration because grammar, punctuation and spelling mistakes gave me the impression their attention to detail was lacking.   Those mistakes could have easily been corrected if someone else looked at their work.

The only thing more important than writing something is having it properly edited.

So the next time you think you are sharp enough to proof your own writing, consider that Fisher Price book and all those job seekers who are still unemployed.  I encourage you to put your pride aside and let someone else do it.  After all, it’s better to say you’re right than oops.


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