If only it were that obvious.
Would you hire the person who wrote the copy below to handle your pr? How about to prepare your official biography? Someone who recently approached me to do that is considering working with this “journalist” and “professional writer”, two labels that she proudly claims for herself. Take a look at a paragraph from my “competition’s” website; I have removed her name from the copy:
“In addition to ___’s passioin for writing, ___ brings fun to social for Individuals, the Music Industry & the Fashion Industry, developing marketing campaigns. As a journalist, community builder, business consultant & marketing strategist ___ specializes in the development of relationships, networks and connections. ___ creates branding loyality and likability between clients, consumers and brands. ___ is a guest, a host and a consultant for a variety of projects for corporations and individuals.”
What a load of bull crap. All I can say is whomever is hiring her (and she does have testimonials on her site) obviously doesn’t have a clue how to determine if someone is actually a professional writer or journalist. Besides the deplorable syntax, the copy is chock full of grammatical errors. Every paragraph on her site reads like this fourth grade mess.
The frustrating aspect of this, is that incompetents like this woman ARE taking work away from bona fide writers like me. I see text like this daily. BEWARE, hack writers are multiplying and they’re coming to steal your hard-earned money! I say steal because if someone is not what they profess they are, and you hire them based on fraudulent assumptions, it is a form of theft.
Why is this happening? It’s the internet. In the old days, for someone to call themselves a writer they had to have verifiable credentials. Now, any schmuck can hang a virtual sign and proclaim themselves an “expert” about pretty much anything.
So, how do you know if you’re about to hire a hack writer?
1. Can they write? This seems absurdly simple, because it is. Don’t take their word for it, read their work. Hell, read a lot of their work. As much as you have the time to read. Then, read some more.
2. Compare their writing to their competitors. Do they stand out positively or negatively? Is there a wow factor? Really good writing is obvious. It makes you think. It makes you want to read more.
3. Get an opinion. Ask a friend who loves to read to take a look at something the writer has written. See what they think of it.
4. Request references and then contact them. Ask pointed questions such as how many times have you hired this person? Would you hire them again? Do you feel you got value for the money spent? Did they meet your deadline? Have you had compliments on what they’ve written?
5. Is the fee surprisingly reasonable? This is a red flag. Being a professional writer takes training, time and experience. If you’re contemplating hiring a writer whose rates are dirt cheap, I can guarantee that so is their work’s quality. Good writing is like a fine wine, you have to pay for it.
6. Do they write with authority? Is what they’re communicating consistent? Does it make sense? Have they done the fact checking? Or, like the copy below, is it riddled with overstatements that don’t add up?
“___’s Specialties include – writing, nonprofits, social networks, business strategy, business development, marketing, artist marketing, strategic partnerships, PR, marketing, social media, creativity, social media strategy, branding and brand strategy.”
Last, but definitely not least:
7. Is their writing original, and how can you know if it is or not? Fortunately, there are great tools today to detect plagiarism. The most respected one is a site called Grammarly, which has a copy and paste function. All you have to do is copy something that a writer you’re considering working with has written and Grammarly will show from whence it originated. That way, you know if you’re hiring a:
Is it ever a good idea to hire a hack? Maybe you’re on a tight budget, and that’s all you can afford. The answer is NO, NO, NO.
The manner in which you present yourself professionally is serious business. Just like you wouldn’t go to JCPenny to buy a suit for an important presentation for a prospective client, the writing that you share with your business contacts is a statement about you and your company, product or services. Would you print your business cards on copy paper? I think not.
The writing that prospective clients and customers see with your name attached is important. It not only speaks to where you and your business are now, but is a solid indicator of where you’re headed. Make sure it looks like you’re headed for the boardroom, not the mailroom.
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© 2011-2014 Sidney Peck/Cinema Profound All Rights Reserved.