When to use an apostrophe

I don’t know about you but it really bugs me when I see an apostrophe being used incorrectly. If you have a reputation to uphold then the last thing you want to do is damage it by sending out written material that contains errors.

You wouldn’t believe the problems this tiny little punctuation mark can cause. It’s so insignificant you probably don’t even notice it when you’re reading at normal speed….

….and that’s the nub of the issue. People either don’t notice it’s there (or not) or they don’t notice whether it’s correct (or not), but for pedants like me, I do notice it!

So, let’s have a quick look at the only two instances when an apostrophe should be used.

To show that something belongs to someone, e.g.

Singular nouns and personal names:

The dog’s tail – says that the tail belongs to the dog.

John’s car – says that the car belongs to John.

Personal names that end in –s:

Charles’s ball – says that the ball belongs to Charles.

BUT some place names are an exception to this rule, e.g. St Thomas’ Hospital

Plural nouns that end in –s:

The dogs’ bowls – says that the bowls belong to some dogs.

Employees’ workplace – says that the workplace belongs to the employees.

Plural nouns not ending in –s:

The men’s hats – says that the hats belong to the men.

The children’s toys – says that the toys belong to the children.

The women’s coats – says the coats belong to the women.

To show that letters have been left out, e.g.

I’m – short for ‘I am’

They’re – short for ‘they are’

Didn’t – short for ‘did not’

He’ll – short for ‘he will’

It’s – short for ‘it is’

The apostrophe goes where the letters have been missed out and are used this way in informal writing. You should not shorten words when you are writing formal letters or emails.

One of the commonest mistakes I see is where people use an apostrophe to express a plural, especially when figures are involved, e.g.

In the 1980’s…

This is incorrect because it’s talking about the decade from 1980 to 1989 so it’s a plural and should be written ‘1980s’.

As a proofreader this kind of mistake is the sort of thing that I’m on the lookout for, not just because I’m a pedant, but to ensure that your writing is accurate, looks professional and is error-free. This gives you peace of mind safe in the knowledge that whatever you’re publishing will mean your readers will focus on your message or the meaning of your content and not looking for the next mistake.

If you would like me to help you to ‘get it right first time’, then please contact me on:

T: 07843 304743

E: peter@ppgproofreading.co.uk

Speak soon

Peter Clarke

aka The OopsProofer & Crimson Crab Reputation Advocate

Thinking of outsourcing : do your diligence!

This time of year many business owners look to outsourcing certain activities. This can be a great way of reducing the burden or growing the business.

On the other hand the wrong outsourcing partner can cause mayhem and add to the stress levels. Not an ideal solution!

To reduce the risk do some basic diligence:

  1. Do they have appropriate qualifications – this could be a recognised qualification or qualification by doing. In other words do they know what they are talking about?
  2. Are they experienced – have they done the work (or similar work) in the past and can you talk to a previous client about their experience?
  3. Do they comply with the relevant legislation – they need to know what laws apply to their business and be compliant with them. A great example is data protection. You don’t want to have an issue because your outsourcing partner doesn’t understand their responsibilities with your data!
  4. Are they insured for the work they will be doing for you – insurance is a safety net for you and may influence your bargaining position over rates!

The extent of the diligence you do clearly relates to the value of the contract but remember it is your reputation to lose!

If you are going to rely on recommendations from others, always ask yourself why the person is giving the recommendation. For example is it because:

  • they have experienced the service and found it to be satisfactory?
  • they know someone from a networking meeting?
  • they know someone from social media?
  • they are going to receive some form of payment for the introduction?

The rationale for the introduction is important to your decision making process.

If it helps Crimson Crab can carry out diligence on potential outsourcing partners read more…

Our Reputation Advocates have been checked against the membership criteria, so that some of the diligence legwork has been done for you. They also work to our Ethical Trading Policy and Code of Conduct to give added peace of mind. The directory of members is here.

Is your business doing enough to support people with disabilities?

When it comes to providing an inclusive workplace for people with disabilities, some businesses believe that following the legally correct policies is enough. Unfortunately, it isn’t.

Whilst many employers do their best make reasonable workplace adjustments, staff perception and awareness of disability in the workplace is equally as important- but commonly neglected. The truth is, even if a business provides the most inclusive working environment available-  these adjustments are worthless if your staff lack an inclusive mind-set.

Some employers may feel that their staff are a friendly and considerate group, and therefore do not need such training. However, you’d be surprised to learn that a recent Scope survey revealed that 67% of the British public actually ‘feel uncomfortable’ when talking to disabled people and ‘awkward’ about being patronising or saying the wrong thing.

At Enable Me, we educate workforces by breaking down these barriers and changing the way people think. Our disability awareness training programmes are user-led (meaning the courses are run by people with disabilities themselves), and cover etiquette, communication correct use of language, and inclusive behaviour, as well as legislation and adapting the business environment.

Understanding disability

At Enable Me, we also aim to break the common misconception that your businesses may be ‘unaffected by disability’ as there aren’t any people with disabilities working for the company- therefore adjustments and training are not required.

Currently 12 million people in the UK have a disability, and vast numbers of people have what are known as ‘hidden disabilities’ including sensory disabilities, a range of mental health conditions, brain Injury, epilepsy, diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome, cystic fibrosis- to mention just a few. So, it’s highly likely that as a company, you already employ someone with a disability, that you didn’t even know about.

Furthermore, it is also worth considering that disability is something that can occur – in fact, only 17% of people are actually born with a disability, 83% acquire it later in life. In total, 780,000 people become disabled every year, therefore the idea that disability won’t affect an organisation is also a perception that should change.

The benefits of awareness

If your staff are client facing, there is a good chance you are neglecting to capitalise on a very vast number of potential customers. Households with a disabled person have a combined income of £212 billion after housing costs- so failing to target this market is a huge waste – one which awareness training can help you change.

Enable Me’s training will empower your workforce with a greater sense of empathy, and will also encourage them to understand the needs of other people. Your business will begin to appeal to a wider group of talented employees, and furthermore, you will proudly reap the reward of publicity when you declare your dedication to becoming a fully inclusive organisation.

So if you want your business to be truly inclusive, your staff to be empathetic and understand the needs of people, whilst you tap into a wider group of customers and talented employees- contact Enable Me -and gain the awareness your business needs.

Reputation Matters by Chris Jay from Enable Me an accredited Reputation Advocate.

For further details on how Enable Me can help your workforce gain a positive perception of disability call: 01903 734400 or email chris@enablemeproject.org.uk

www.enablemeproject.org.uk

What Makes A Perfect Profile Photo

“IMAGE IS EVERYTHING”

Life is all about first impressions, Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov.

Forming a first impression takes 1/10th of a second.

In 1/10th of a second we decide someone’s Competence, Likeability and Influence by possibly viewing a profile photo of them.

How does this relate to Business?

  • “People buy from people they like know and trust”
  • If you don’t have a picture, how can you start the process?
  • More importantly how do you go about getting a good profile image?

A couple of years ago “Photofeeler” carried out some research using 800 profile images. Viewers were asked to rate the images against Competence, Likeability and Influence. The research did not include the characteristics like gender, age, and physical traits.

The following were considered the important areas discovered by the research, are  you surprised?


Eyes

When viewing images of someone, people like to see the full facial features of who they are looking at. Obstructions such as hats, sunglasses or poor lighting can hide features and this reduces the likeability of what the viewer is seeing. Look into the camera, don’t hide.


Squinting

Ensure that you squint slightly when looking into the lens. profile photo demonstrating excessive squintingHaving wide open eyes gives the impression of the rabbit in the headlights, it denotes fear.

 

 

 

profile photo demonstrating correct squinting

Having a slight squint, increases the perception of your
competence, influence, likeability and feels more comfortable for the viewer.

 


Face

Profile photos that show a defined Jawline increase yourprofile photo demonstrating defined jawline perception of competence, influence, and likeability.

 

 


Smiling

profile photo demonstrating smilingI know we have all made excuses, “I don’t like smiling”, “my teeth aren’t white”, “I’ll crack the lens” but that’s what they are excuses.

Want to increase the perception of people viewing you? Then an open smile is a good way of doing so. By smiling you appear friendlier, happier, healthier, and more relaxed.

If your smile is a closed smile (no teeth showing) then your perception of competence, influence, and likeability is likely to drop by half of that with an open smile.

Be careful though don’t turn the smile into a laugh, although this was found more likeable the competence and influence was shown to have dropped. So keep the smile controlled.


Body

The way you dress in a photo says a lot of who you are. Think profile photo demonstrating well dressed maleit’s not important and anything will do?

The research showed that formal dress gained the greatest
perceived Competence and
Influence. That is a dark suit over a light coloured shirt/blouse, and men you need a tie.

By all means dress down for your photo but this will lose viewers perception of how credible you are. Also beware of stripes and bold colours.


Body Area Shown

How much of the body should be shown:profile photo demonstrating close up cropping

  • Close-up of the face?
  • Head and face?
  • Head and shoulders?
  • Head to waist?

The research showed that head and shoulders or head to waist shotsprofile photo demonstrating a full body shot fared better than face only close-ups.

Those people that used a full body shot negatively affected competence and influence.

 


Setting

The research never came up with an answer to this. However as a profile photo demonstrating a plain backgroundpersonal opinion the background needs to be plain or out of focus. The important thing is that the subject stands out.

Maybe you can experiment with different colours. Have your head-shot taken against a green screen and have a series of different background (colours or out of focus) being used.

Avoid direct sunlight images as you will eitherprofile photo demonstrating a blurred background be squinting with the sun in your face or to dark (unless flash is used) with the sun at your back. Both of these viewers will lose confidence in you.

 

 

profile photo demonstrating an office setting with a blurred background


Editing

The key here is moderation; all digital photos benefit froprofile photo demonstrating poor colourm some editing:

  • colour correction
  • Spots
  • Dandruffprofile photo demonstrating correct colour correction
  • Lightening
  • Softening
  • contrast etc.

But avoid anything extreme.profile photo demonstrating good editing

 

 


All photographs copyright © Martin Harris. All rights reserved.


Martin HarrisBiz Card Front Image1

T: 07824 331 730

E: martin@mhphotographyhampshire.co.uk

W: www.mhphotographyhampshire.co.uk

 


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The three top risks to reputation

After receiving a poor performance review, an employee takes to social media and speaks negatively about the organisation and its leaders, creating a dialogue around the organisation’s culture that goes viral…

A cybercriminal discovers a vulnerability in an organisation’s security system, steals the Social Security numbers of millions of its customers, and demands a ransom payment for the decryption key needed to recover the sensitive data…

A third-party vendor fails to follow regulations when handling client records and inadvertently releases sensitive customer information, resulting in negative media attention and a steep fine for the organisation…

Read more in the source article: Triple threat: How to handle three top risks to reputation | Compliance Week