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4 common comms mistakes – and how to avoid them

We all know it’s good to learn from our mistakes, but even better still is learning from others’ mistakes!

With well over 100 years of comms experience between us, we’re not afraid to admit having had the odd blooper or two over the years.

So, being the good-spirited people we are, we thought we’d share our hard-earnt wisdom to save you the same blushes…

Forgetting to use track changes

A pen, small rubber, and scattering of rubber dust sit on top of an open, spiral-bound notebook.Track changes can be a lifeline when you’re working on a document with multiple contributors. In particular, if you are responsible for the final copy, it can really help to see where others have made changes so that you can check them for tone and accuracy. If someone forgets to turn them on, it can be incredibly difficult to find changes leaving you with the unwelcome task of reading through every line for the 862nd time to check everything again.

Thankfully this isn’t an unsurmountable challenge and there is a handy feature in Word where you can compare two versions of a document to find any differences. Phew! Our guide to Microsoft Word can tell you more.

Not planning for things to go wrong

The old adage ‘failing to plan is planning to fail’ applies to a degree, but how about planning for when things fail? A mistake we’ve all seen and made before is planning a timeline with little to no contingency for unexpected hurdles. For example, a key stakeholder in your sign off process asks for significant last-minute changes, or an external event or news story means you have to shift your deadline.

We are all really good at accommodating these things, but wouldn’t life be more fun if we didn’t have to drop everything to push something across the line? We know that everything in comms tends to be tight in terms of timing, but it is always well worth stretching the timeline wherever possible to allow for those inevitable bumps in the road.

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Poor version control

A little like track changes, version control can help you keep a handle on your comms project when there are multiple stakeholders who want to see and comment on your working document. It is also incredibly important as it helps you to understand why something changed when and explain this at a later stage if necessary.

Without good version control, it can be hard to keep tabs on where your project started and where it ended up. It also stops people from commenting on out-of-date copy and causing confusion and possible delays.

Skipping the proofreading

When you’re up against a deadline, it can be tempting to push things through and skip a final proofread to get to the finish line. Now, after you’ve spent such a long time carefully crafting your copy, the last thing you want is to ruin its impact by a distracting typo or grammar error.

For example, it may not sound like a big deal, but one tiny missing or misplaced punctuation mark can change what you’re saying drastically. You know, some people might find happiness in cooking, their children and their dogs…

…while others prefer cooking their children and their dogs!

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