Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at dennyhatch.com.

Heather Fletcher is senior content editor with Target Marketing.

When I attended grade school back in the Paleozoic Era, my classmates and I loved our weekly spelling contests where, no matter who our facilitator was, we looked not only to master our assigned words but also to tackle some wild card selections. Millions of years later, I still geek out on these letter placement challenges and am thankful that Google Trends recently released a map of the most misspelled word in each state, with some of the troublemakers striking me as “beautiful” reminders of how even common utterances can catch us by “surprise.”

We’ve all witnessed how impaired corporate or brand image can undermine both consumer trust and financial performance. Recently, Target’s CEO was relieved of his duties because of the massive customer account security breach which occurred during his watch. The poster child of negative reputation, at least in the U.S., has been British Petroleum. BP’s then-president of U.S. operations was forced from office because of some ill-conceived and dismissive language, and BP’s corporate behavior since the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster has been of little help in image recovery.

Do you sometimes wonder if strange goings-on in the next office or on an upper floor by hotshots—who in reality don't know squat—could bring down your business? I find astonishing the number of rogues who make decisions not knowing the rules, not understanding their business model and, worse, worse, worse, not testing small. Instead—convinced they know it all—they roll out big. When things don't go their way, they double-down. And everybody gets clobbered—fellow employees, stockholders and the public.

As hurricanes Gustav and Ike ripped along the Gulf Coast during the first days of September, they disrupted millions of lives. For the foreseeable future, the devastation will challenge Louisiana and Texas residents who need to rebuild their lives after losing homes and businesses. 

But Katrina Gay, communications director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, knows there are numerous unseen hurricane victims. For the mentally ill, these acts of nature may have cut away their safe routines and their lifelines to physicians, medicine and other essential support services.


By Hallie Mummert Hurricane Katrina is easily the largest natural disaster to hit the United States in the last century. With the death toll at 1,200 and counting, an estimated $200 billion in damages, and more than a million people displaced—only the Great Depression can rival this social impact—obviously it will take years for Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama to recover economically and spiritually. While the focus of business reporting in the days immediately following the storm centered on oil, steel and shipping, other industries suffered losses, too. Meanwhile, the oil business, for one, was able to get back in action rather quickly. That

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