Rant: PR Nightmares

As PR pros we try our very best to prevent spelling mistakes, learn everyone’s name and provide media with the information they need for their stories. 

However, we’re not perfect, and we can admit that mistakes do happen. While we cringe when we see them going down and exploding on the Twitterverse, we empathize that everyone has an off day and can make errors.

Today, we’re summarizing some of our worst nightmares that could happen as a PR pro, as inspired by PR Daily. We won’t lie, some have happened in real life, but we work hard every day to ensure that they are avoided. 

Pitching plights 

Pitching a round up or gift guide story idea for a client to an outlet, only to see it come out the next day – and realizing that you missed your opportunity.

When media go directly to the client about a story, even though you pitched the idea – cutting you out of the equation. Hard work for nothing.

When you pitch a great story and the outlet decides to run with it – just not with your client. 

Having to send out 50 personalized emails, but forgetting to take out the FWD in the subject line to a couple of writers.

Sampling sorrows
Sending samples on the wrong courier/UPS choice, meaning it gets there too slowly and misses the media’s deadline. Awkward.

Having FedEx lose your packages, only to have them show up weeks later, destroyed. 

Socializing and social media
Accidentally tweeting something a little harsh from the company Twitter instead of a personal account. Then rushing to delete it before it’s retweeted. 

Embargoed information leaking on Twitter. 

Tweeting a misspelt client handle (not necessarily a nightmare, but still annoying).

Almost falling…or actually falling at fashion week in front of the media lounge.

Wearing a walkie-talkie and making a weird face every time someone talks in our ear, looking to the outside world like we’re confused, crazy, constipated or all of the above.

Release woes

Sending out a release with track changes. Ack. 

a release to the wrong list.

Having an invite approved by the client with the wrong Four Seasons/Intercontinental, sending out the camera call (also approved) with the wrong address and then showing up at the wrong Four Seasons/Intercontinental, only to then call everyone to tell them to go north.

Realizing you forgot to get a reviewer to sign an embargo letter, after they’d already started screening or reviewing.

Sending out an Oshawa media alert to an Ottawa media list (with the media list attached). Don’t ask how that happened. 

Call me, maybe? 

Addressing an email to the wrong outlet (an editor at FLARE instead of FASHION, for example).
Calling media member by the wrong name. (Example: Derick is not Shinan. Nor is Jian) We’ve seen it happen more often than you think. When a media member forgets ours, we shrug it off. And if we forget? Social media suicide. 

Camera calls vs. breaking news, always a gamble, you never know what’s going to happen.

Planning an event or party for weeks, then day of, pouring rain, blizzard or three other, bigger parties have suddenly been scheduled for the same night. #EventFail

Being quoted as a media spokesperson when we weren’t expecting to be quoted or worst, being interviewed on live radio without realizing until it’s too late. This has happened!

And the rest…

Waking up every hour on the hour in a panic, because you think you’ve overslept for an early morning show segment.

Sending something to print thousands of copies, with a glaring typo. After client approval. 

Having to send through bad coverage is never a good thing. 

Crisis communications. 

Rant: Conference Call Etiquette

Whether we like it or not, conference calls are a necessary evil. Okay, maybe evil is too strong a word, but they can definitely be awkward. There are multiple parties involved, and it’s tough to get a read on reactions without any visual feedback. But conference calls can also be a great networking tool and relationship builder, so it’s important to handle them with care. On the fourth floor, we conference with clients and business associates all the time, so we rounded up our best tips to help make the process smoother.


If you’re the organizer and you’re using a conference service for the first time, do a test run with a co-worker to make sure it works effectively. Make sure you send all parties ALL the info they’ll need to join the call. For example, leaving out a conference pin number could hold things up for everyone.

Share a conference line with the rest of your office? Check ahead of time to make sure nobody else has scheduled a call at the same time as you. Multiple parties calling in for two separate calls at the same time could lead to an embarrassing situation, not to mention waste people’s time.

Circulate a meeting agenda ahead of time so everyone has a chance to review and add to it, if necessary. This brings purpose to the call and will help you lead the meeting.

If there are people joining from multiple time zones, don’t forget to indicate if the time of the call is Eastern Standard Time or otherwise. You don’t want the big boss calling in hours before everyone else. 

Be prompt. Joining a call late forces the other parties to make awkward small talk while they wait, which nobody appreciates. Or, they will forge ahead without you, meaning you miss important details. If you do join the call late and someone is speaking, don’t interrupt to announce your presence. Wait for a break in conversation, and then kindly apologize for being late.

Take the call in a quiet space. Eliminate background noise including chatter, music, pen clicking, etc. Oh, and try not to breathe directly into the receiver. It’s annoying. Whenever possible, don’t call in from a mobile phone – there is a big chance you will cut out at some point, and it can be difficult to hear if the connection isn’t perfect.
Find a place that even Mr. Quiet would deem worthy. Image source.
When the call begins, allow everyone the opportunity to introduce themselves by name and affiliation so all know who is present.

Listen closely, and don’t be afraid to ask someone to repeat something if you couldn’t hear. If you’re really having trouble, take notes and ask a colleague after what you missed, if possible. And don’t be afraid to jump in with ideas and information as appropriate.

If the conversation goes off topic, reel it back in firmly – but be polite. It’s important to stay focused, especially when there is limited time available. Schedule a follow-up call if an important new topic arises. 

Be sure everybody is off the line if you continue your conversation with a client, or coworker. It would be really embarrassing if you started in about ‘how badly you want to go for a smoke,’ if one of the other parties is still on the line.

Finally, when the call comes to an end, be sure to thank everybody for their time or wish them a good day. It’s just a nice thing to do.

Got any fave conference call tips? Tweet us @rockitpromo or #conferencecalls.