Why is Good Grammar Important?

22/12/2015

Alice Wilkinson, Digital and Content

Why is Good Grammar Important?

Well, in the future, it might not be.

Professor Vyv Evans of Bangor University recently claimed that:

"Emoji is the fastest growing form of language in history based on its incredible adoption rate and speed of evolution. As a visual language emoji has already far eclipsed hieroglyphics, its ancient Egyptian precursor which took centuries to develop."

In fact, in a survey by TalkTalk Mobile, 72% of 18 to 25-year-olds in the UK said they found it far easier to communicate emotions using emoji rather than text.

Therefore, it is perfectly feasible that in the future we will abandon our cumbersome words and the unyielding grammar rules that hold them so ruthlessly in place, in favour of small, colourful pictures that exactly and succinctly represent our emotions, intentions and needs. The Flamenco Dancing Lady, for example.

Bad grammar’s a black mark

And yet, in a recent survey of dating site users, bad grammar was revealed as one of the chief reasons for rejection, second only to poor personal hygiene. Indeed, 88% of women and 75% of men said they judged a potential partner by their grammar.

Proofreading company Grammarly found that a man with just two spelling mistakes in his online dating profile was 14% less likely to receive a positive response than those who make none.

This harsh fact is an analogy for our overall attitude to reading online: so flooded with online content (or dating profiles) are we that we are always, consciously or not, looking for a reason to stop reading (or swipe left).

A mark of professionalism

Bad grammar and poor syntax is difficult to read and does discredit to its author; it is unprofessional and leaves its author open to ridicule.

Conversely, good grammar suggests credibility. Grammarly reviewed 100 LinkedIn profiles of native English-speakers in the consumer packaged goods industry. They found that:

  • Professionals with fewer grammatical errors in their profiles had higher positions.
  • Fewer grammatical errors correlated with more promotions. Professionals with one to four promotions over their 10-year careers made 45% more grammatical errors than those with six to nine promotions in the same time frame.

Grammar skills indicate several professionally valuable traits: being detail-oriented, clever and analytical.

From a PR perspective, good grammar is a necessity.

Our role is to foster credibility, raise profiles, safeguard reputations and create thought leaders. Whilst good grammar will probably go unnoticed in a press release or blog, mistakes will not. Even a small error serves only to discredit your writing and undermine the client on whose behalf you write.

Arguably, the standard of writing that is generally considered acceptable has diminished. The rise of the blog has seen to that. Historically, blog-readers have not asked that blog posts be especially well written; we accept that a blog is an informal place and that blog posts are more akin to a stream of thought than an article.  

But this is changing.

The legitimisation of digital media

Digital media is on the rise and print media is in slow decline. In the UK, 38% of us access our news online whilst only 10% rely on newspapers. Worldwide, the primary news source is television but 38% and 33% of us turn to search engines and social media, respectively. Only 18% turn to newspapers.

In consequence, online platforms, like blogs, social media and online news outlets, have gained credibility – they are now legitimate sources of news and opinion.

Tweets are now used in place of direct quotes, particularly in political reporting. Blogs are no longer the informal places that they once were and blog posts are subject to almost as much scrutiny as printed articles.

Furthermore, online content has a very long lifespan. Press materials distributed via the internet are immortalised, along with any mistakes they may contain.

The standards that once applied only to printed media now also apply to that written online. Today’s 24-hour news cycle must be constantly fed with content, all of which must be well written and free from mistakes.

In conclusion

With the digital revolution well under way, the written word predominates and, far from becoming obsolete, grammar has become the means by which we judge the legitimacy of those words.

Good grammar is still a mark of professionalism and credibility. As PR professionals our credibility, our trustworthiness, and above all else, our ability to clearly communicate, is crucial - not only for our own sake, but for that of our clients.


 

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