I hope you find my writing and business tips and observations useful. My business and blog are dedicated to helping businesses communicate clearly and reach their potential. Read, subscribe to my newsletter, enjoy!Tash

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Correct details in tests are critical

I came across another example of errors in details being an issue.

Our daughter’s school sent out an email including ‘(1 of 2)’ in the subject. The attached pdf explained they were testing the communications system for parents so we should expect two emails – if only one arrives, contact the school.

Testing communications seems like a good plan and the test seemed simple enough.

Then I got a second email which referred to being the first email of two and had the same attachment. Was it an error to get this email twice or did they accidentally send it twice? Should I reply to say I got it twice, possibly like hundreds of other parents, or give them a chance to explain the duplication first?

Flurry of envelopes flying into a laptop to represent incoming emails

Responding to a mistake can lead to a flurry of emails – avoiding that is one good reason to check details before hitting send!

Then, I got a third email asking me to log into the school’s site to read a letter. The letter was the same attachment as in the original email (which clearly states ‘this is the first email and please contact us if you don’t get a second one’).

Which detail is wrong – the letter stating a second letter was coming or the sending of the same letter twice?

Where does that put their test?

On one hand, I got both types of email so the systems are working and my contact details are correct.

Do they have my email address in the system twice so I will get two versions of every group email they send?

Was it human error to get the same attachment in the second email type or is that a failure of the system?

I can not reply as I got both emails or I can reply and explain I got three emails and the same attachment.

Which do you think will help their testing process more? What would you do?


Collecting annual report content

Writing an annual report for many people is a big chore done over a stressful month or two just before it is due to be released.

I have suggested before that the process is better spread across the year by keeping notes so that the actual preparation is easier.

Another way I work on an annual report throughout the year is to copy chunks of text into an annual report document as well. This is content worked on during the year for a specific topic or use – for example, descriptions of a new service or product launched during the reporting year.

When it comes to writing about those topics in the annual report, I can pull out the existing, correct content  and adjust it to need. It is much quicker than reinventing the wheel with new text or wasting time searching for that text “I know I wrote back then”.

Although a style guide often includes sections of useful text to be reused, it doesn’t always include text about specific events or external factors.

Can you imagine how organised you will feel and look when you pull out a page of pre-prepared text when you start writing your annual report content?

What makes a good link?

Every website  and blog owner knows, or soon learns, that links are a great way to build traffic and search engine rankings. And most realise that incoming and outgoing links are both important parts of the equation.

But what makes a good link? How do you want to be presented on other sites and blogs when they are linking to you?

Obviously, you can’t always control how people link to you – you often don’t know about links until after they are established – but if you are prepared, you can increase your chances of getting good links, and offer good ones in return.

Many people assume a banner link (that is, an image of your business is linked to you rather than text) is the best option. This is not really true. People looking at the site may notice a banner sooner than text, of course, but don’t always respond more to a picture than to a few well written sentences. And not everyone realises that a banner can be clicked on as a link – they look for underlined text as a link. What is more important though, is that search engines can’t read images so any text in the banner itself is not picked up by a search engine.

So a text link is often more effective. But even then, some text links are better than others. For instance, a descriptive link to my article on formatting letters is more effective than just a link to Word Constructions as it gives the search engines and readers more information.

As you read my blog and website, you will notice that I try to include a description in every link to add more value to you and those I link to. Is this something you will try now?

Happy writing!