Pr0ofiNg PitfAlls: as told by an AE

Pr0ofiNg PitfAlls: as told by an AE

Proofreading your work and checking every revision seems like a no-brainer right?

I thought so too, until I made a few (only two, but they did enough damage) rookie mistakes on recent pieces for my clients.

First things first, proofreading is not the same as glancing, skimming, perusing or any other synonym Word can come up for me. Learned that little tidbit the hard way.

Secondly, you’ve got to know that with any agency there is a cycle of peak times during the month when everything is due that makes producing a piece you want to be perfect, with zero revisions, a cute fantasy.

During the last peak week at the agency, I ignored both of the knowledge bombs I just shared with you. My client workload was at an all-time high. I had Email marketing campaign starts, TV and radio production deadlines, direct mail drop dates, digital campaign launches, you name it- it was due. It’s like all my clients got together and decided to make all of their deadlines on the same date.

In May I was busy launching a five-store full court press campaign for one of my auto group clients while simultaneously trying to push a donor newsletter out for print for the non-profit account I lead, and things got messy.

Two weeks after I thought I had AE life under control, smoothly launched a big campaign and sent a newsletter to print, I got a call from my client asking from where a tracking number came (yes that’s the correct what to say that sentence). After an exhaustive and panic-stricken search, I realized I duplicated a tracking number from the previous month’s direct mail piece, but it was too late.

More than a thousand pieces had already been delivered into homes and a different dealership was getting all the leads. The clients were angry I wasted their money and an awesome mailing list, my superiors were frustrated with my rookie mistake on a big account, and I was mortified.

In that week I sent so many revisions, requests for approvals, signed off on countless graphics and sent emails on top of emails to make sure everything was running smoothly, and in the midst of all the madness I forgot to take a step back, look with a fresh set of eyes and then proceed.

As a new AE, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the fast-paced nature of an ever-growing agency. Trial by fire is how you learn, even though it may be the hard way, to proof everything you can with a fine-toothed comb. Think of proofing a piece you’ve seen more than once as the last word you can’t find on a word search.

If you stare at it long enough you can probably trick yourself into seeing what you have been in search of for 20 minutes. My suggestion, as a recently self-scorned proofer, is ASK FOR A BUDDY! Just a quick new set of eyes.

When you’re rush-proofing or you just want something out of your hands it’s easy to see what you want to see, but if you take a quick lap around the office or ask your cube buddy to take a look at it for you, it can make all the difference. Keep those eyes fresh and those clients happy!