What’s in a name?

By Posted in - Internal Communications & Public Relations on May 23rd, 2012 2 Comments

In the public relations industry, relationships are everything. And part of building one is respecting individuals – yet, misspelling someone’s name happens so often.

We’ve seen several examples in our own office of people getting our teammate’s names wrong.  Example:

  • Lisa instead of Liza
  • Katelyn instead of Caitlin
  • Molly instead of Mollie

The article, Why misspelled names are so common & what journalists are doing to prevent them, points out that we (including journalists) rarely take time to double-check someone’s name – even though it can be one of the most important things to confirm.  It’s easier for us to assume it’s spelled a certain way – or write the name from memory.

In fact, the article states, “Our name is tied to our identity, so we feel slighted when people don’t take the time to spell it right.”

When it comes to internal communications and connecting with your employees, it’s important to spell their names right. Every time.

Former Washington Post Executive Editor Ben Bradlee had this to say to a young man who referred to him incorrectly when asking for a job in 1978:

“Even though you are still young, very young, let me give you some advice. When you write the editor of a newspaper for a job, other things being equal, you stand a better shot if you spell his name right.”

How do you ensure you are getting the names right of those with whom you are trying to build a relationship?  It’s worth it to take an extra minute and double-check the spelling.

Share this to keep the conversation going:

(2) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Alison -

    May 31, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    People are constantly putting two “L”s in my name and I usually cut them some slack, but after repeated offenses I try to subtly correct them by signing my email ALison… hoping they’ll take notice! As a writer, I always start my interviews with, “will you first spell your name.” The one time I didn’t do that I used the spelling that my editor gave me and it was WRONG! I felt horrible because if I can’t get someone’s name right, that doesn’t give me much credibility for the rest of my article.

  • Kim -

    June 20, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    Alison, that is a great tip! It’s so easy to assume how to spell someone’s name – but the best way to know is to ask. It probably sets up the interview well because the person knows that you are interested in getting unique details right the first time. Thanks for your comment!

Please leave a Comment