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November 2008


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Strong Writing And Good Grammar Can Make The Difference In Job Hunt

This week I’m sharing some thoughts from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) International Conference held in Detroit. I was very impressed with the keynote address given by automotive legend Bob Lutz, currently the Vice Chairman of Global Product Development for General Motors. Lutz returned to GM in 2001 to instill some passion back into the company after a period of producing what Lutz calls “bland cars”. This guy gets the value of communications. He is 67-years old and writes a blog called “GM’s Fastlane Blog”. Check it out. ( He told an audience of communications professionals that he sees the corporate blog as an opportunity to have a real dialogue with customers and to put GM’s message out to the public “unfiltered”. He likes the immediacy of the blog and the fact that it gives him an opportunity to skewer the media when they get it wrong.
Speaking of media, Lutz says communications professionals should view the media as an opportunity, not an obstacle. As a former reporter, I love hearing that. Lutz believes building relationships with key media is important, and you do that by listening carefully, avoiding condescension, and just being straight with them. Reporters are trained to view public relation professionals with skepticism. And they’ve had plenty of experiences to support the idea that a corporate press release is just spin.
Lutz paused during his speech to address a concern felt by many in the business community, including myself. “Allow me to take a minute to get on my soapbox and say that the general state of writing in the professional world is deplorable. And e-mail and text messaging aren’t helping any,” said Lutz. How many times have you seen the phrase, “sneak peek”, spelled “p-e-A-k”? Is that a clandestine mountain? Or seen the word ‘attain’ when it should be ‘OB-tain’? Lutz added, “Those who can express themselves precisely and effectively have a huge advantage over those who can’t. Period. And if you can go one step further and make it precise, effective and interesting, you really have something. Success inevitably follows.”
I couldn’t agree more. My firm, The Repovich Reynolds Group specializes in finding exceptional talent for corporations worldwide, in the core functions of communications, marketing, investor relations and finance. There’s my marketing plug. Unfortunately, Lutz’ criticism of the marketplace is accurate and ubiquitous. I see too many communications professionals with poor writing skills. Recently, I was hired to find a Director of Communications for a Fortune 1000 company. The lead candidate completed two rounds of interviews with executives, psychological testing, and a face-to-face meeting with the CEO. The company was ready to make an offer, pending the outcome of a writing test. The candidate failed. Careless writing errors cost the candidate the job. In this world of instant communications, where everyone has a megaphone; strong writing, accurate spelling and grammar still matter and can make the difference in your next job opportunity.

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