I promised myself that I was going to shorten my posts significantly. Well, to emulate Lloyd Bridges as McCroskey in the movie Airplane, I guess I picked the wrong day to shorten my blogs. But I have come up with more descriptive post titles, so there's one improvement!
Each year, as a high school English teacher, I hear the same indignant question: "How will this ever help me?" I am always amazed at this question because, as long as people are speaking the English language, English class will be helpful. (Note: I said the class will be helpful; the teacher may not be-but that's another post entirely.)
Yesterday evening, I was engaging in one of my guilty pleasures: reading Car Audio and Electronics magazine. No, I'm not one of those guys who "pimps" his ride by bolting an exhaust pipe that is 7" in diameter to his half red, half Fiberglas car, and allows the distortion from a mediocre subwoofer, powered by a strangling, suffocating toy amp, to rattle his rusted trunk. High quality car audio, that is, car audio that sounds studio at any volume level, has simply been a passion of mine for close to 20 years. I have told my wife on many occasions that a dream job of mine would be to be on the marketing team for a car audio company like Alpine, JL Audio, or Kicker. However, Alpine is located in Torrance, CA, JL Audio is in Mirimar, FL, and Kicker-well, Kicker is located in Stillwater Oklahoma (Go Pokes!), and while the commute to Kicker would indeed be shorter than that to either coast, they have not yet given me a call.
Oh, wait, I forgot, I was talking about grammar. Anyway, as I was reading about this incredible VW Bug that had been packed full of enough car audio equipment to double the car's weight (they actually referred to their twelve-inchers as midbass!), I caught a glimpse of my hero, Chip Foose's name listed in an ad on the opposite page, so of course, I had to read the entire ad. Car audio electronics manufacturer Arc Audio was displaying their 3 latest equipment lines, one line of which was ascribed in name to said hero. I have always respected Arc Audio, not because of their marketing prowess, but because of their high quality equipment (I think there is a lesson there, but I have already rabbit-trailed enough in this post). Arc, like many other companies who pour a ton of money into R & D and high quality components, has a comparatively small marketing budget (perhaps they should read The Imperative). This was painfully apparent in the ad I was viewing, as it had not one, but two errors: one spelling, one punctuation. The errors were painfully obvious because there was very little text and a few small graphics on the page-the rest of the page was black. The errors were printed in big, bold, naked letters. Even a 16-21 year old male-CA&E's target audience-could have caught at least one of the mistakes. (I must admit, I only caught one at first; my wife caught the other.)
So how does this translate into meaning? How will grammar help the execs at Arc Audio? It all comes down to the obsessive care that I want for the retailers of the products on which I spend my hard-earned cash to exercise. If Arc Audio is going to miss such bold, brazen errors in their publications--publications that will reach far more people than will ever come into contact with their products on a tangible level--how do I, the consumer, know that the same type of carelessness is not taking place in their production? I know that Arc makes great products, but this is because I have followed Arc products for a while. But many people who read CA&E are newbies or casual readers. They may not know any better.
I once contacted a financial services company about errors I found on the index/home/front page of their website. In jest, I ended the e-mail with, "So can I have a job?" They replied quickly, thanked me, and told me that if I lived in the California area, we could talk. (What's up with the great jobs in California??) An editor is a valuable marketing resource, and proper spelling, grammar, punctuation, mechanics, etc. are all essential to legitimate, credible advertising. Precision and obsessive care in marketing and advertising sends a loud message. Don't skimp. Hire an English teacher. That is all.