Avoiding Misspelled Names

If I misspelled a name in an assignment for my news writing professor in college, it was an automatic F. At the time, I thought that was highly unfair, although I can tell you I never misspelled a name.

Years later, I realize the value of that assignment. Spelling a person’s name incorrectly makes we wonder what else the reporter got wrong, and I lose trust in the reporter and the publication.

Craig Silverman, editor of “Regret the Error” said academic research shows that misspelled names are the sixth most common newspaper error. He has put together an accuracy checklist to help with these errors. He notes on his site, “Checklists help reporters and editors increase their level of accuracy.”

The first thing I always do when I interview someone is ask for their business card. I never assume the spelling of a name. I’ve interviewed people named “Smith” and “Smyth” and if I had not asked, I would have spelled the name incorrectly.

“It is one of the easiest things to verify and yet it’s one of the things journalists think about verifying the least,” Silverman said. “We use names on such a frequent basis that it’s the kind of thing that lends itself to assumptions.”

Don’t rely on other sources, either. Even The New York Times gets names wrong. It’s critical to do your own research.

If you’re quoting an online source, cut and paste the name into your story. Then you know you have it right.

People want to see accuracy. If you spell a person’s name wrong, the person is likely to think of you as lazy or sloppy, and that’s not the professional image you want to convey.

Taking extra time with names is critical. Just ask anyone who has ever seen their name misspelled.

Mobile Device Usage Up Big in 2010

Opera’s November State of the Mobile Web report reflects on a year of growth for the mobile Internet, with users browsing an incredible 340 billion pages in the first 11 months of 2010. (Opera is a mobile web browser developer).

With more than 80 million users in November, the yearly trends reflect a user base spanning teenagers with smart phones in Western Europe to users of basic feature phones in developing countries.

And now NFPW is joining the trend. We have our own mobile website. In the next few weeks it will work so that if you type nfpw.org on your smart phone it will automatically know to go to the mobile site.

Why did we do this? Because those who are growing up with mobile are not going to take the time to go to a computer and then go to the NFPW website. This way we can keep our information visible to all members. Many companies have mobile sites, too. It’s still not clear how companies will be able to capitalize on mobile usage but they’ll have it figured out before long.

In the meantime, if you want to know more about mobile, here’s a link to the mobile trends for 2011.

Protecting Your Privacy on Social Media

Those of us on social media love catching up with each other. We share details of our lives, including vacation photos. But who’s viewing those details?

We all know how to set our privacy settings but that doesn’t mean your information won’t get taken.

MoneyWatch recently posted about things you should never post on Facebook, including your birth date. Of course, if you don’t include that, marketers can’t collect their needed demographics. So one suggestion I’ve heard from marketers is to change your date by a few years so that you are at least within your demographic. Why you’re at it, you can always make yourself younger.

It’s also not smart to post about when you’ll be on vacation or where you’re going. Thieves can find your empty house or they could find your hotel. Wait until you return to share those photos.

And be careful which photos you share. If you received a new car for Christmas, it’s probably not a good idea to show it in your driveway with the house number on the lamp post.

Most know the adage that you shouldn’t post anything you wouldn’t want your boss or you mother to see. It’s good advice. I read a series of comments where those posting said that an employer didn’t have any right to check social media posts. In this market, employers want the best, and they don’t want to have worry about employees who will come in hung over or have so much debt that they might take a little extra.

Social media is a great way to keep in touch. Prior generations didn’t share their personal issues outside of the family. It’s a good lesson in this generation.