Posted in Sex & Romance, Uncategorized, writing tips

How not to write…Wedding Thank You Notes

Thank you wedding note

The big day; you wept, you laughed, you ate your own weight in canapes, but this is it, all those months of planning have finally come to an end and you’re left with the love our your life, a banging headache and some serious red bits from your two weeks in the sun.

Thankfully you still have all those lovely presents to unwrap.  The joy of discovering your third gravy boat and the dodgy fertility candle from Aunty Clarissa.

It was reported that Meghan and Harry delayed their honeymoon to help Prince Charles celebrate his 70th birthday, but in reality, they were faced with the daunting task of writing a bucket load of thank you notes.  Just think, 600 guests, including Elton John, George and Amal Clooney and the Beckham’s let alone HRH The Queen. That’s some serious repetitive strain injury for the newlyweds.

But what do you do when too are faced with the mammoth task of writing your thank you’s:

Do:

  • Make it personal and tailored to the recipient.  Keep notes as the gifts arrive (we love a spreadsheet) and try to write the note as soon as you get the gift. 
  • Try to include some notes on how you’re going to use it, look at it, play with it.  A simple, ‘Thank you so much for our soup tureen, George is already planning a gorgeous butternut squash concoction for this year’s Halloween party’. 
  • Write and thank guests if they’ve given you money.  A simple statement of how you’re going to use it, i.e. towards the Honeymoon, scuba lessons or our brand new lawnmower will make it feel more personal, useful and gratefully received. 
  • Include a thank you for attending the wedding, or a so sorry you couldn’t make it. 
  • Remember to write to those who were in the wedding party or gave support and assistance, even if they didn’t give you a gift.  They helped you have a memorable day and start you out on married life. 
  • Get them written.  Etiquette states within two weeks, but anywhere up to three months is fine.  Write a few each night and you’ll be through them in no time.  

Don’t:

  • Tell the gift giver that you’ve exchanged or returned their present.  Yes, you may have swapped your third toaster for a bedside lamp but your guest doesn’t need to know this. 
  • State how much money your guest gave you, just a ‘Thank you for your generous gift’ and plans on how you are going to use the cash will suffice. 
  • Forget to thank your hosts, or anyone who helped pay for the wedding.  This is normally parents, so even if your mum was overbearing and your dad embarrassed you on the dancefloor, be generous, rise above it and thank them for their contributions.  We recommend you wait a few weeks, perhaps after the honeymoon to write these notes as time, space and beautiful romantic sunsets can help ease the tensions of the last few months. 
  • Ramble on.  There really is no need to wax lyrical about how beautiful the ‘unique and interesting’ pottery pig is.  Rule of thumb, if it’s longer than the back of a postcard then think again. A swift, personal thank you sent in a timely manner is better than an A4 page of insincere drivel four months later. 
  • Think this is down to your partner to do.   Take it in turns to write the notes. This is a  joint effort, like your marriage. You both had guests, you both need to do your share.  Forget bad handwriting, poor spelling or a total disinterest. Get on board and get it done.
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Posted in Sex & Romance, Social Media, writing tips

How Not To Write… Private Messages

How not to write private messages

Be it Twitter, Facebook or your in house business system, like Slack, private messaging can be a great way of sharing content and keeping in touch with fellow users, whilst keeping your public profile free of ‘random chat’ and messages best left to the private sphere.

This of course includes all those random drunk Friday night chats all about your private ‘spheres’…and we’ve all had a few of THOSE conversations, right (Ed: speak for yourself).

Do:

  • Be aware that even though something is ‘private’ any messages can be ‘screen grabbed’ or possibly viewed.  In the wake of recent Facebook allegations on data privacy and Slack’s ability to monitor employees messages, ensure you fully review who could possibly see your data before clicking send.
  • Check, check and check again who you’re messaging. Be sure you know who you’re actually talking to. Is it a generic corporate account, a real live person or a sex bot? All require very different approaches.
  • Remember just because you sent a PM/DM, it won’t always stay private – everything can be copied and pasted complete with your profile picture.
  • Remember other people may ‘accidentally’ access users accounts, so if your messaging is particularly fruity/honest/libellous, check the way the recipient is responding. Is the language they’re using the same? Is the use of emojis, tone and sayings the same? In short, are you talking to the right person?
  • Keep things brief. Messaging is not the medium for a 1,400 word essay on your subject of choice. Think along the lines of Twitter, 140 characters, and make them work for you. Most people are reading messages on smaller screens, so constant scrolling means the important part of your message may be lost.
  • Remember when to leave/stop. This goes for PMing a company, your celeb crush on Instagram or your newest friend on Facebook – keep them wanting more. Plus, you know, RSI is on the rise, so give your digits a rest.
  • Try to understand how the different PM/DMs work across social media.
    • Twitter – great for ‘quick’ chats or when you need to share details with a company to resolve a complaint.
    • Facebook – for friends, use the messenger app. It’s good for longer conversations, much like Skype, but be wary of the obligatory ‘online’ status – there’s no way of turning it off, so everyone knows you’re online.
    • Instagram – well, no one really uses it, as it’s really just a quick way to send an Instagram post link to someone else. In our opinion, Instagram isn’t really set up to be an ‘interactive’ tool, it’s much more designed to show off your ‘tools’.
    • Skype/Google Hangouts – a real chat client, similar to WhatsApp. You can create groups and chat to one person, or several people, at a time. It’s easy to make yourself ‘invisible’ (always handy) but predominantly used for quick text messages, sending pics or video chatting for free across the world.

Find a social media app that works for you and your recipient; they all have pros and cons, so use one that supports your needs.

Don’t:

  • Whatever you do, don’t PM, DM or otherwise attempt direct contact with celebrities. It doesn’t matter that they waved to you that time in Sainsbury’s, or that they ‘liked’ or replied to a post of yours. You won’t come across as a friendly fan or fellow ‘creative type’, you will come across as a psychopathic stalker.
  • Straight males approaching females – don’t have your opening message say ‘Hey hot chick, wanna look at my dick’. We can assure you that 99.9% of women have no desire to see it, hear about it or do anything with it.
  • In fact, straight men approaching women – be very very careful what you message ladies.  Don’t, for example, approach someone you’ve only just started following and have barely responded to with the classic ‘hey girl, wanna hang?’. At best you’re likely to be sent a gif of a hangman’s noose.
  • Don’t assume you’ll get an immediate response. People are online at different times, or may be doing different things, or may need to think before formulating a response. Be patient. Be calm. In essence, be Yoda.
  • With this is mind, don’t hassle people if you ‘see’ they’re online but aren’t responding to you. Give them a break, they may be logged on for a specific reason, which may not include you. If you are real proper buddies then you may have their number and if it’s an emergency you can ring them, but otherwise don’t demand their attention all the time.
  • For heaven’s sake, don’t rant, rage and swear at a recipient, regardless of how frustrated you may be. Try to remain calm and state your issues and needs appropriately. In fact, wherever possible try not to respond if you’re seeing red – it never ends well.

What have we forgotten? How do you stay sane on social media? How do you ensure your private messages stay private? How do you deal with PM invaders?

Posted in Business & Corporate, Work & Employment, writing tips

How Not To Write… A business report

How not to write a business report

We’ve all been there. The boss comes in at ten to five and says ‘Oh, by the way, we need a quick report on the [name of client you’ve never heard of] account… by tomorrow… you can get that on my desk for the morning?’

The horror. The outrage. The pint that was calling your name. The complete terror of writing a report that doesn’t make the MD fall asleep within three pages of opening it.

But fear not, we have some helpful ideas for making that blank piece of A4 into a report that’s the work of corporate genius, and not a pile of donkey pish that’s used as lining for the boss’s cat’s litter tray.

Do:

  • Number one rule in corporate writing, as in life and Starbucks orders, is KEEP IT SIMPLE. And (equally important for report writing) KEEP IT SHORT.
  • Number two rule in corporate writing – don’t laugh at the phrase ‘number two’, and then…
  • Focus on the important facts. Identify the key messages you want to get across and keep it sharp, snappy and sexy (…maybe not sexy, but you know what we mean). In other words, put an ‘executive summary’ of the really juicy stuff right at the start of the business report. Your boss and the rest of the management team are busy, busy people – they want to know the really world-shattering stuff that’s relevant to the business and the client relationship…and then get in a few rounds of golf before lunch.
  • Know your audience. The same as you wouldn’t do a sexy strip tease for all your neighbours, same goes for writing reports – don’t show it all at once and be careful who you expose it to. By knowing your intended audience you can hone your language so they understand quickly what you’re banging on about, and usually get what you want. If you don’t get what you want maybe that’s the time to consider, ‘taking it all off’.

Don’t

  • Use it as a place to have a rant at everything that’s wrong with your job, boss or company, especially if you haven’t done your research and have tangible facts to back it up. Yes, we all know that Paul in Ops is a total dick but where is the empirical data on this? Have you compared Paul’s dickishness to others in the office? Have you tallied the results across all departments? Have you outsourced your research to see if it’s, in fact, a common factor amongst all Pauls? If so, brilliant – crack on, provide those statistics, show us your mighty pie chart and then you can conclude that Paul is, in fact, a dick.
  • Use the dreaded business jargon, it’s dull and makes YOU look like a knobber. No point in optimising your organic growth potential in a saturated market, unless you and Paul from Ops are collaborating on making a business porno. (See even Pauls have their uses).
  • Fill the report with hundreds of oh-so bloody exciting bar graphs and pie charts. By all means, include some data visualisation of the BIG insights, but don’t try and blind people to your woeful ignorance of this client by going bat-shit-mental with the graphs and charts – it’s not big, and it’s not clever.  (Unless it’s about pies, then it’s amusingly ironic, so crack on).

How do you cope with the dreaded report request?  Apart from running to the coffee shop of your choice and ordering a double espresso for ‘Dangerous’ with extra shots, what do you do to plough through the report, get it on your boss’s desk and still get out the office on time?

Posted in Social Events, Uncategorized, writing tips

How not to Write … A Hen Do invite

How not to write a hen do invite

The Royal baby has arrived, someone put a big sign up outside Buckingham Palace and some bloke did a shouty thing, but what’s next in the Royal’s event calendar?  No, not the Royal Wedding but Meghan’s hen do, which by royal decree needs to at least rival Harry’s stag in the legendary department. So if like Meghan’s bestie you’re having to invite a load of chicks to an epic bachelorette party, and haven’t a clue where to begin, cast your eyes down for a few tips….

Do

  • Be clear who the bride is (it’s her do, not yours), when, where and what you’re doing. 
  • Plan ahead. For destination do’s you’re going to want to give a few months notice, for local do’s 6-8 weeks, should allow enough time for the attendees to save the date in their diary and make any arrangements they need to. 
  • Pick a theme, if your bride wants one, and apply it to invites, emails and other communications, but don’t over do and keep it tasteful.
  • Feel free to use a pun or two, ‘final fling before the ring’, ‘A drink or two before the I dos’ ‘Party with bride, before the knot is tied’.  Poems are also popular but can be incredibly cheesy, so think about what sort of do your bride wants, and if cheese is ok, then feel free to go the full on gorgonzola. 
  • Be aware of your audience, yes you may all want to go to Magaluf for laughs and Lambrini but Nanna might be happier with a round of golf and a cream tea, so tailor your invite accordingly. 
  • State if there is a dress code, fancy dress etc, and whilst you want to encourage everyone to join in, accept that not everyone will be happy to dress as a sexy nurse or wear pink day glow ‘bride tribe’ t-shirts. 
  • Give locations, directions, maps and details of any and all venues involved.  For local hen do’s check that these can be reached by public transport, or ask guests to car share.  For destination do’s check for reliable and safe transport, including for those that may bail out early.

 

Don’t

  • Assume all hens are female.  The do is for your bride’s friends to celebrate her final days as a single gal, so the invite should include whoever she wants (including male best mate/Man of Honour) and your wording should be gender inclusive.
  • Base the entire invitation round drinking.  Some may not, some may be temporarily abstaining, some may be better off not, unless you want a load of home truths and an upset bride, best stay clear of day long bingeing sessions.  Build in activities and a get out clause for those that want to head off early.
  • Forget to invite your bride.  Often hen nights have an element of secrecy about them, but etiquette is that you also send the hen an invite.  No need to personalise it, the invite you send to everyone else should suffice, after all she’s also one of the group and wants everyone to enjoy themselves.
  • Make every establishment highly expensive, exclusive or swish.  Not everyone will be in the same financial position as the bride, so give some options so people can opt out/retire before it gets too pricey.
  • Forget to put your contact details on it and how and when you need people to RSVP by.  Many organisers set up a Whatsapp or Facebook group, but in the light of the recent Facebook data allegations, please check your settings, ensure its set to friends only and also include an old style phone number. Auntie Doris probably is on Facebook but play safe and give guests a traditional way of reaching you as well.
Posted in Sex & Romance, writing tips

How Not To Write… A Dear John/Jane Letter

dear john

Ah, relationships! What an enigma, wrapped up in a conundrum, they are. As humans, at some point most of us will end up dating someone.

We’ll revel in the heart-bursting intensity of the initial ‘honeymoon period’ of dating, we’ll kick off our shoes and run barefoot through the meadows of romance and (if we’re very lucky) we’ll end up with someone we can settle down with and get into one of those long-term relationship thingies (you know like that co-dependent relationship you have with donuts).

But, let’s be honest, not everyone we date is going to end up being ‘THE ONE!’, as Tupac decided about his one time BAE Madonna.  More often than not, we’ll gradually come to the realisation that our new bae is in fact… well, a dick. It could be the newly acquired knowledge that they admire Nigel Farage, or it could be the fact they’re completely and utterly awful in the bedroom department. But whatever the reason for your change of heart, one thing remains constant…

You’re gonna have to end it!

And you’re going to have to decide on a subtle, tactful, non-heartbreaking way to break the news to them that, actually, they’re not the apple of your eye any longer.

This is where the ‘Dear John/Jane letter’ has traditionally been the get-out clause of choice for many. In this digital age, it needn’t be a written letter, of course – it could be an email, a WhatsApp message or a Skype conversation – but the same principles apply.

Do’s:

Be honest but tactful, be compassionate and thoughtful…

“Dear previous BAE,  

I am so sorry to write this letter to you but whenever we’re together it is difficult for me to express my feelings as I really care for you and don’t want to hurt you. I do hope you understand that this is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do ’cause I really do care about you, but unfortunately I don’t think we can see each other any more.

I know none of the clichés will help here but it really is me, not you. I’m just screwed up and I don’t deserve someone as nice as you and you don’t deserve someone as rubbish as me. I will always love you and I hope we can stay friends, but I feel we must end this before we end up hurting each other.

Take care.  xx”

Don’ts:

Don’t feel you have to be completely honest…

“Oi tart face,

You iz a bloody munter alright! Dunno why I slept with you, your technique was fucking shit if you must know. And you know that dance you do, where you think you look so cool? Well, I have news for you – you look like a womble, on speed, at a rave, whose mum is waiting to pick them up! Plus, like… you know, get a trim, have a wash, your downstairs department is like Fred West’s cellar. It stinks, made me vomit and is full of things no one wants to unearth.

See ya minger!”

 

Posted in Social Events, writing tips

How Not To Write… An Easter Egg Hunt invite

How not to write an Easter Egg Hunt inviteEaster.  A time of daft rabbit ears, waistline-increasing levels of chocolate and the perennial favourite that is ‘The Easter Egg Hunt’… oh and something about a bloke with a beard popping back up from beyond the grave to tell us how lovely it would be if we were all nicer to each other (definitely no bad thing, but we’re so over the smock and sandals look).

So, if you’re more interested in the confectionery than the theology of the Easter season, you’d better get writing some invites to your Easter Egg Hunt. We all know you’ve got to hide a selection of ovoid goodies in fiendishly difficult hidey holes but how do you make your guests turn up in the first place?

Do:

  • Put the date, time and place on the invite. Easter can fall at funny times during the year, so make it easy on folks and give ’em the blasted date.
  • Include a map, directions and any special instructions, such as parking arrangements or how to avoid George, your over chatty neighbourhood watch coordinator.
  • Include a postcode and directions for satnav-challenging villages. If you’re taking people ’round the back way’, do ensure there’s refreshments and shouts of ‘stop the clock, she’s found it’ when they arrive (Anneka Rice jumpsuits are optional).
  • Use a pun or two in your invite text to add some colour. For example, ‘hop on over’, ‘hip hop hooray’, ‘it’s an eggstravaganza’ or ‘let’s get eggsploring’… (Ed: no more bloody egg-asperating puns)
  • State if you need to bring your own basket (egg hauls can be cumbersome to transport) and if appropriate footwear is needed. Great Aunt Doris may need to re think her 4″ Manolos.
  • Be aware that, for some, Easter is a highly religious experience and many may be fasting. Also, bear in mind that for others it’s a ready excuse to smear themselves with the melted remains of a bumper-size chocolate bunny – either way, be respectable and cater for all.

Don’t:

  • Leave the word ‘Easter’ out of your invite – unless you want apocalyptic style abuse from your neighbours and Theresa May camping outside with a ‘down with this kind of thing’ placard. Forgetting to mention Easter in their ad copy got the lovely people at The National Trust and Cadbury (please send us free chocolate eggs!) into a spot of bother last year so we’d advise titling your ovoid-hunting extravaganza an ‘Easter egg hunt’ – unless your idea of fun is being chased down the high street by a rabid mob of irate Christians and Daily Mail readers (cue Benny Hill-style chase).
  • Promise creme eggs or mini eggs on your invite: some egg fancier always buys them up in bulk in February and you’ll be left bereft, embarrassed and scrabbling round the shops, with nothing but Marmite and Pot Noodle eggs to appease your assembled throng.
  • Use this as the time to try out your Dan Brown-level of clue mastery. No-one wants to spend three hours working out that your clue ‘where sun and sand at happier times did meet’ refers to your ornamental glass paperweight from the Isle of Wight.
  • Make your egg hunt adult-themed and smutty – well, not unless it’s an adult party and all the eggs are the vibrating kind (Ed: could add a buzz to the party).
  • However tempting it may be, use a walking app to make your ‘trail’ look like a penis. Stick with an Easter Egg – it’s easier to draw and less likely to cause any neighbour envy (tip – you can make it as huge as you want 😉 ).

 

Posted in Social Media, Uncategorized, writing tips

How Not To Writte… On LinkedIn

linkedinLinkedIn is that strangest of things – a social networking site where you only connect to people you do business with (and we don’t mean like on Tinder).

As a social site, LinkedIn is all about connecting with, and widening, your work and business networks. So you’ll end up connecting with everyone from Derek in Accounts, to the CEO of a pipe-lagging business you met at that conference in Dudley. LinkedIn also shows you how closely you’re connected to other LinkedIn users, like some odd business-card version of ‘Six degrees of Kevin Bacon’.

In the LinkedIn universe (linkiverse?), a first contact is someone in your network, and a second contact is someone who’s bezza mates with one of your contacts. This ability to ‘stalk’ business contacts means LinkedIn has become a favourite tool of thrusting, aspirational sales managers who desperately want to ‘get an in’ with the Operations Buyer of their current number one target business.

So, if you’re going to actually get something useful out of this sea of business contacts and ex-colleagues, here are the dos and don’ts for using LinkedIn.

Do:

  • Write a profile that grabs the attention. A short, concise personal statement, like you would find at the top of a CV will do just fine.
  • Try not to sound like too much of a corporate clone. Make your LinkedIn profile concise, to the point and with an accurate explanation of who you are and what you do. And do put a photo of yourself on there so people know what you look like – remember, with social media, personality is everything and a human face (however hideous) is a big part of your online persona.
  • Use LinkedIn as more than just an online CV. People used to use the site as somewhere to ‘show off their wares’ when they’d had enough of their current employer and were ready to jump ship. There’s still an element of this (recruiters LOVE LinkedIn as it does all the hard work of finding suitable candidates for them) but LinkedIn is much more about highlighting your skills, telling people what you do and generally making yourself sound like the slightly less egotistical winner of ‘The Apprentice’. So read our CV tips here.
  • Send contacts a personal message when you’re adding them. It will help them place you and increases the chances they’ll want to connect with you.  A simple ‘We met at that pipe lagging conference in Dudley, and I was interested in how you fill your tubes’ will probably suffice.
  • Add in your statement the sort of work you are looking for, but check who you’re connected with first. There’s nothing worse than saying you’re looking for a new job, to then remember you’re still ‘connected’ to your current boss.
  • Keep it professional. This isn’t Facebook for mates, this is for colleagues and networking. And, on that note, be very careful who you connect to – do you really want to be hounded by Derek the pipe lagger, just because you shared a beer once.

Don’t:

  • Get someone else to write your profile – it’s a cardinal sin when it comes to LinkedIn. If you get your personal assistant/bored intern/mum to write your account profile, it’s not going to be a very accurate reflection of you, your style or your particular skills – it’s more likely to sound like someone kissing your arse. Take some time out from world domination and write this yourself. Be honest, big up your good points and don’t mention bankruptcy/court cases/lack of formal qualifications or anything that might detract from your majestic rise to business stardom and well-deserved riches.
  • Leave your photo blank! This is a social media site and the managers you’re meeting from that logistics company next Thursday will be Googling you to try and see what your ugly mug looks like. Find a headshot that looks professional, approachable and try not to grimace too badly.
  • Get too trigger happy with the shares and updates. Posting a few links to interesting articles occasionally is fine, but the people in your network REALLY don’t want to see every recent article you’ve come across shared in their timeline. Be selective and don’t bore people.
  • Feel you have to list every job you ever did and a full list of all your skills. Yes, Linkedin is sort of like a CV/resume but it’s not a place to copy and paste your job description.
  • Slag off your current or previous companies, colleagues or circumstances – remember this is a business site where professional standards will be expected of you.
  • Under no circumstances use the phrases ‘show off your wares’ or ‘thrusting sales professional’ unless you work for Ann Summers/LoveHoney.