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The tombstone of former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, who was born in 1924. Courtesy photo
Ask Mr. Marketing Columns

Typo on a tombstone

Big Bird says, “Everybody makes mistakes, so why can’t you?”

It’s a legitimate point, and a good reminder to be careful in your work. Because while website typos can be easily fixed, other mistakes can be expensive to correct.

I mean, who wants to reprint a brochure because someone was inattentive? 

Then there was Donald Trump’s “COVFEFE” tweet; embarrassing, and having an extensive half-life.

Consider yesterday’s events at El Camino Cemetery. My bride and I were there for a headstone unveiling for a friend who died last June 23.

Headstone unveilings are oftentimes near the one-year anniversary of someone’s passing. Feelings remain raw.

So, there I sat reciting the 23rd Psalm, listening to a brief eulogy, and watching as the cloth covering the headstone was removed. A few loved ones shared their thoughts…and then someone spoke up.

“There’s a mistake on the headstone.”

Sure enough, the date of his passing was listed as June 2022.

I’m told this sort of thing happens regularly and CAN be fixed. I don’t know how it’s done, but Google is replete with stories of tombstone typos.

But the real question becomes why it happens in the first place?

I blame the folks who inscribed the stone. They probably sent a digital proof to the family asking for the okay, got it, and pushed the button.

True, they’d have their backsides covered legally, but is it right to rely on the proofing skills of distraught family members for something this important? If the inscriber is professional, why wasn’t it caught in advance?

And will it be fixed when the family complains? Or will they visit the cemetery to check for the error, rather than paying respects?

Good grammar’s important, and it’s critical to always have extra eyes proofing any communications vehicle. If you’ve stated something poorly, you’ll probably miss the mistake when examining your own writing. Those extra eyes increase the chances of catching any errors.

I’m partial to reading out loud when proofing my communications, as my ear typically catches what my eye missed. Other writers read their work backward.

But whether you’re proofing yourself or asking an associate, the key is to consistently have your work proofread. Because the last thing you want is a mistake that comes back to haunt you.

With that said, I wish you a week of profitable marketing.

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