It was Saturday, August 24th and I was sitting in the kitchen of my parents house while I was visiting for the weekend. I reached down to check my phone and I noticed an abnormal amount of emails in my inbox. I quickly realized that one of my greatest fears had become a reality.
We had made a mistake!
All of these emails in my inbox were in response to emails that had been sent throughout multiple campaigns and were being sent again, unwanted, and I had no idea why! All of the possible scenarios started to run through my mind. Had we been hacked? Did I make an error? Was this really happening?
I quickly jumped onto our marketing tool and disabled as many emails as possible, but I knew that it was too late. I had already received multiple ‘unsubscribe’ emails, and the damage was done. I then contacted our president to inform him of the error so that we could get working on it as soon as possible, as well as figure out exactly what had happened.
It turns out that our developers were running updates on our WordPress site and throughout the process of the update, a few particular emails were triggered to send again, even though they had already been sent. This meant that old emails were being resent to everyone that we have contact with.
The question then became, “What do we do now?”
This questions falls under the umbrella of Public Relations.
Here are some examples of how Public Relations is defined as:
“A strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” (PRSA.org)
“The practice of managing the spread of information between an individual or organization and the public.”
“The professional maintenance of a favorable public image by a company or other organization or a famous person.”
Regardless of how hard you work to prevent them, mistakes are going to happen. The questions that you must ask yourself are:
“How can we move forward, not backward?” – Recognizing this new point of reality and moving on toward your goal without tearing apart your team by pointing fingers. The initial time after a mistake is the most valuable time to respond. You can figure out who’s fault it is later, but now is time to find direction and act.
“Are we ready to respond?” – One of the major mistakes that can be made is to respond to a mistake too quickly without knowing the plan. It is key to know what your goals are when handling the situation, and how will you achieve those goals. Dallas Lawrence, chief global digital strategist for Burson-Marsteller once said, “The only thing worse than saying nothing is saying the wrong thing.” The reality is that the mistake is going to last beyond an initial question, so it is important to be intentional with the messages you send out, whether that be in an email, through social media, or in a speech.
“How can we prevent this from happening again?” – It is always important to learn from your mistakes. It is true that you will learn more from the mistakes that are made than by the successes, and so learn to adjust the way that you move forward so that you wont repeat the same mistake.
It is extremely important to know how to manage your communication. This communicating can be conveying a positive message, and it can also be communication that is managing a negative mishap, like the mistake we made last weekend. And the best way to manage something like this is to know how you are going to respond before it happens.