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. 

Sending
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. 

Media, Darling: Derick Chetty

Derick Chetty is the fashion reporter at the Toronto Star. Covering both Toronto and international shows, he also reports on the local society scene and compiles the Star’s annual Best Dressed List. He was formerly the fashion editor at Flare Magazine, has a weird obsession with Pride & Prejudice and never gets tired of watching 1980s sitcoms. 

Photo by Randy Risling.
Website: www.thestar.com 
Twitter: @DerickChetty

Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon? 
No. When I was younger I had grandiose plans to be a designer. But the first year pattern drafting class at Ryerson pretty much steered me clear off that career path. I learned I have little patience for mathematical calculations. 

Where would you like to be five years from now?
I feel we are living at warp speed.

Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
The newspaper industry is at a crossroad now. You might be embarking on the most thrilling ride of your life or a death plunge off a cliff. 
But if I haven’t deterred you, start getting some experience by interning somewhere. It might not be paid but treat it like a real job that you absolutely love and where no job is too menial. I once cleaned an editor’s office.  

What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own?

Wall Street Journal and Financial Times – weekend print editions only. Love any newspaper that still consider art direction something to be treasured. And I have a lengthy list of guilty-pleasure blogs I love.
Best interview you’ve ever had?
Donna Karan. Even though I was plunged into a panic when I realized my tape recorder was not working. But looking at my notes at the end, I noticed she did not waste a single word – every answer was precise, measured and directly to the point. 
Worst?
Any when the subject wants to conduct the interview via email or the questions to be presented ahead of time. If you’re that busy, why bother agreeing to the interview?  

Best advice you’ve ever been given?

No one tells you the truth. 

What rule(s) do you live your life by?

Do the right thing.  

What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?

I like a touch of professional formality. Perhaps social media has made us all too casual. I don’t respond well to people who reach out to me with Hiya, Hey dude, Happy Monday! How was your weekend?  

And my name is not Shinan Govani. He’s the shorter one.


Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
Any that operate without fuss or delay. 

I hate?
Depends on time and day. But that should tell you I don’t harbour hatred. 

I love?
Time to myself.

Reading?
Re-reading The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

Best place on earth?
Barcelona. My happy place. 

Dinner guest?

I’ll start with The Golden Girls and then move on to any other quartet of funny ladies – Designing Women and the Sex and the City girls.  

Hero?

Anyone that overcomes adversity in pursuit of their dreams. 

Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?

I got 20 apps when I first got my iPhone and I haven’t downloaded any since. That tells me I probably don’t have a need for more. 
Pool or ocean?
Ocean. 

Voicemail or email?

Email.

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