Harry Truman’s middle initial is S, but that S “doesn’t stand for anything”, I learned recently from my National Speakers Association friend Todd Hunt. Or does it?
The S honors Truman’s grandfathers, Anderson Shipp Truman and Solomon Young, but Harry Truman himself had no middle name. Try explaining that to the Chicago Style Manual, people, however. After Truman became president, the Manual pedants informed him that he was setting a bad example for America’s youth by omitting a period after his middle initial. Never mind that the S in Harry S stood for two very important “somebodies”, namely the two grandfathers Harry’s parents had wanted to honor by including the S in their son’s name.
Since I’m always on the alert for interesting tidbits relating to history, to business, or to language use, I particularly appreciated this Truman anecdote. Since I offer business blogging help to business owners and to freelance blog content writers, the tale reminded me of two important – and in no way mutually exclusive – concepts that business blog content writers need to keep in mind.
1. Everyone who knows me at all well is familiar with my near-maniacal preoccupation with proper language usage. Informal and conversational as business blog writing might be, I constantly stress, it’s of paramount importance to catch any potentially distracting bloopers in blog content before it “goes live”.
2. As a corporate blogging trainer, it’s long been my belief that, when online searchers arrive at your website, they need to find a lot more than product and service descriptions, price lists, and testimonials. They need to meet the people behind the page. Business owners’ top beliefs should be on their prospective customers’ need-to-know list.
The Chicago Style Manual people were making a valid point. The president of the United States needs to serve as a good example of proper use of the English language. When it comes to the ongoing debate among Indianapolis blog writers about whether correct spelling and proper grammar matter in conversational, informal blogging, I’m in the camp of making quality impressions when presenting one’s business to the world.
On the other hand, the S in Harry S Truman is not an initial and therefore does not require the period. But how was anyone to know, if Truman didn’t , at least not very publicly, explain that salient fact?
In your business blog, make clear what your business ”stands for”!