Thursday, July 12, 2007

Natasha fights the First Annual battle

One of my former students, Natasha, has started blazing a trail in the copywriting business. She gives me way too much credit for starting her on this journey. She was born with a great gift, and she is one of the proofreaders for my posts.

I'll post soon about proofreading tips--because it's as important as any writing tip.

Anyway, Natasha is in a big office in a big agency in a big city. She shares with me that she has been asked to write a radio spot about an event. Having gleaned the information from the event Web site, she is shocked to see the title contains "First Annual...".

She e-mails me in a panic. "I'm going to say something," she writes me, "because, after all, there is no such thing as a first annual."

Natasha is bright. And she is right. I don't recall drilling her on this, but she has come across this sticky-wicket, as every young writer does.

An event or occurrence can't be annual until the second time it happens, ideally 12 months after the first time it happened. After all, that's what annual means.

The first time, it's just FIRST or INAUGURAL. When next year rolls around, then call it THE SECOND ANNUAL.

I told Natasha to fight the good fight. I told her to tell her co-workers that the media they hope will cover the event will laugh at them (behind their backs of course), and their competitors who know better will think less of them. It will make an unprofessional impression.

That's never good writing.

Let Natasha's battle cry be heard across cyberspace. Death to FIRST ANNUAL. It's the right thing to do for the wrong thing to write.