The Devil is in the Detail

Devil is in the detail is one of England’s classic idiomatic expressions, it means that small things  – which are often overlooked – can cause serious problems later on.

As a journalist paying attention to the smallest, most minute details is of the upmost importance. A simple vowel can cause a complete cataclysm, it is the difference between writing “We shut at 5pm” and “We sh*t at 5pm” – as one very unfortunate associate once wrote to us.

As a writer it’s my job to go over text with a fine toothcomb, on a daily basis I sub and scrutinise copy and it is something I love to do.

When a grammatical error is printed – and the journalist is the culprit- it feels like our world may just implode. Perhaps that’s a tad melodramatic but it certainly results in a pair of crimson cheeks.

However, in a fast paced environment where tweets, posts, press releases and articles are being disseminated every day the odd grammatical gaff is an unavoidable occurrence.

Especially now, what with the majority of newspaper ‘hacks’ being hacked there has been a steady increase in typos, errors and terrible blunders.

As a journalist and PR Officer rolled into one I can understand the frustrations on both sides of the fence. On one hand you have the fatigued journalist inundated by a pile of pointless press releases. On the other you have an exasperated PR team attempting to grab the attention of the disinterested journalist who won’t even spare a moment to properly look at your story.

It is the latter that I am focusing on today. As a Press Officer for Culturapedia I (to no surprise!) create press releases for a variety of projects including Spot On (an ACE funded organisation who deliver professional theatre to isolated communities. They are a terrific company, check them out at: http://www.spotonlancashire.co.uk/)

The idea behind generating PR is to advertise the range of exciting and oh-so-enticing theatrical shows taking place across Lancashire. To support these press releases, in typical PR fashion, I normally source a quote from Culturapedia Director and Big Cheese of Spot On Sue Robinson.

Recently, after the delivery of a Spot On press release, I received an unprecedented question from a journalist.  It appears this writer wasn’t concerned about the Spot On performance – neither did she want to know more about the international performer involved – what really concerned her was the age of Sue.

Well, Sue’s age was completely irrelevant! If this was the axis of the story – ‘Ten year old programmes season worth of theatrical events!‘or maybe ‘Spot On Manager still going strong at 101’ then yes, her age would be eminent, but she wasn’t so what did it matter?

To please I conjured up an age. Resounding in my head were the digits 42 so 42 it would be. It appears that, in newspaper years, this means you are actually alot older as a week later my poor boss was publically revealed to be 62 years of age.

Luckily this was taken in good jest (with one accquaintance asking what skin cream she was buying!)

So here’s a cautionary tale to the communications world – the devil is in the detail. If you don’t want to age well beyond your years then start paying attention! Otherwise it might be you next time who ends up in the sh*t.