Who Knew?

November 3, 2015

by Roger Pynn

We often advise clients to forego asking for a retraction when something untrue has been published about them.  Why?  Primarily because we believe that in publishing the apology the media outlet will very likely expose people who never saw the error to the subject … and it will only arouse their curiosity.  In other words, “Why regurgitate the error?”

I couldn’t help but think of that when I received this email from a small restaurant we frequent occasionally.

“Hi everyone, I just wanted to let everyone know, how sorry I am about tonights (sic) Pot Roast special. It wasn’t up to our standards in quality of meat. When it was brought to my attention, I discovered that our vendor had switched products without telling us. I assure you the next time we have the Pot Roast special, it will be as delicious as it has been in the past.  
Thank you”

When I say “small,” we’re talking a total of about 40 seats … and they are rarely full.  In fact, this pub serves only the residents of a specific gated community.  You have to live there to eat there … almost a private club.

Now how many folks do you think ordered this awful pot roast?  Not many, I’m sure.  But the email list serves 1,200 property owners … all of whom are now likely wary of what their next meal will taste like.

So, the next time you are tempted to ask for a correction, think about pot roast.


NPR Owns Up to a Major Error

January 12, 2011

by Dan Ward

We have all seen how the rush to publish can sometimes lead to errors in news reporting.  Kudos to NPR Ombudsman Alicia Shepard for providing a detailed, step-by-step explanation for one such mistake made by her organization this weekend.

Soon after breaking the story of the rampage shooting in Tucson, NPR unfortunately followed up on its “scoop” by mistakenly reporting that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords had died.

While defending her organization for being transparent and apologizing for its mistakes, Shepard spares few punches in explaining how those mistakes were made, and how they could have easily been avoided.

Her closing comment, “many people will remember the mistake and not the correction,” is one that virtually all PR people have voiced themselves at one time or another, after fighting for a tiny correction on A2 after some news outlet published incorrect information.

Competition to be first is resulting in more and more mistakes.  And the instant-sharing capabilities of Twitter mean those mistakes are seen by more eyes.  That’s why we advise clients in our Message Matrix® training sessions that monitoring what is being said about you and your organization is now a round-the-clock responsibility.

Waiting for a correction is a thing of the past.  When a news story mistakenly starts a wildfire, it’s YOUR job to put it out



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