I will never forget my first bylined article in the Financial Times of London. It was back when Kathy Lee Gifford was in trouble as her clothing line for Wal-Mart was accused of violating the child labor laws in Honduras. As an aspiring journalist, I did a ton of research and preparation for this article. It even included meeting the Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, Kathy Lee herself, and interviewing a number of others who had a say on the subject.
The morning of the edition, I was tingling from head to toes with anticipation. I opened the newspaper and started reading my article, hardly containing the excitement. And then my world collapsed. Right in the middle of the article, an editor in London somehow changed Kathy Lee’s last name to Griffith. I was crushed and embarrassed – because now every reader (of which there were millions) saw me as an illiterate person not knowing my subject. The Washington Bureau chief did talk me off the ledge that day, bless his heart, and also reinforced the newly learned lesson about the editors: “BEWARE.”
I find this lesson confirmed years later in proposals. NEVER, EVER let your editors be the last people who handle your proposal. Always, always carefully go over their redlines to ensure that they didn’t change the meaning, or spell out the acronyms incorrectly. I recommend even running a read-out-loud session on a fully edited proposal document, to ensure that everything is correct, and your message is consistent. Just like the British misspelling a name of a U.S. celebrity, your editors may not be familiar with your subject matter. Don’t let their mistakes ruin your reputation with the customer.
Do you have your own editor horror stories? If so, please, share them with me.
President / CEO
OST Global Solutions, Inc.
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