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. 

Fave Five: Fall Reads

Know that feeling when you finish a good book and fear you may miss the characters like they were your friends? Most of us on the fourth floor are just that type of bookworm.When a lot of  reading is a big part of our job, a good book is the sweet downtime we crave to connect with our inner fantasy world, even just for an hour or two.  


Like any awesome book club, we whittled down our communal list to five (sometimes) funny, (often times) historical and (every-so-often) light reads!


1982 by Jian Ghomeshi

Not only is the man the host and co-creator of the national
radio program Q, but Ghomeshi has now added the title of author to his resume.

Set in one year of his life, Ghomeshi pens a coming-of-age story based on the desire of his 14-year-old self to be David Bowie: eyeliner and all. Much to the chagrin
of his Iranian parents, Ghomeshi embarked on the journey to transform himself in order to win the
heart of an older woman (she was sixteen – oh, young love) in Thornhill. Funny and
heart-warming, the story is structured around 12 songs and important
moments from 1982. The book will be released by Penguin Canada tomorrow!
The Paris
Wife
by Paula McLain

The Paris Wife captures
Chicago in the 1920s. Chronicling the story of Ernest Hemingway and his wife
Hadley, who had all but given up on love before she met the famed author at the
age of 28. Before meeting Hemingway, Hadley was a gifted musician,
taking care of her sick mother. The golden couple of that era, they had a whirlwind romance before moving to Paris. Transitioning into the Parisian
lifestyle proves difficult, as Ernest struggles to find the voice that will
make his writings famous, documenting his life in a novel that would eventually
become The Sun Also Rises. Meanwhile,
Hadley struggles to hold onto her sense of self, juggling the role of wife,
friend and muse to the budding author. As if that wasn’t enough, a deception
 involving Hadley’s friend threatens to unravel their marriage.

Major “aww” factor: it is said that Hemingway wrote “that
he would rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley.
” That is
until you realize how creepy is it to have a love triangle with your BFF, and
that Hemingway was married four times…

And the award for the longest book title goes to… Putilizer
Prize-winner Studs Terkel. Yes,
it’s not exactly the new kid on the block but still a book that we can
easily pick up during busy times because it’s written in small, easy to
digest pieces.

Dolores the waitress, with the grace of a
ballerina, the parking attendant who says ‘working people are better tippers
than Cadillac drivers’ and the cashier of thirty years who
can tell totals without looking at the screen are the subjects of the book that take us through the
lives of everyday workers, giving snippets of their triumphs, fears and (inevitable) lay-offs.



The story shows how they survived the daily grind and how they’ve been
touched by the people they encounter while on the job.  

Dotted with illustrations and photos from the 1900s, the
novel takes us through the beginnings of Gabrielle Chanel, her ascend to Coco Chanel, and the celebration of her creative genius and the only fashion
designer to be named on Time 100: The Most Important People of the Century.
Chanel is synomous with couture collections and the signature No.5 scent, and
much has been written about her beginnings as a seamstress and her fashionable return (at
the age of 70) to resurrect the House of Chanel. 



Hal Vaughan, in this part-suspense thriller, part-wartime narrative, tells the story of Chanel’s life
between 1941 and 1954 which has never been fully told by Chanel or by her many
biographers. Vaughan reveals Chanel’s collaboration and affair with high-ranking
Nazi officials, how she became a German intelligence operative and how she escaped an arrest in France. It’s a gripping read for fashionistas and bookworms alike.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry gives us a sneak peek into
the life of Harold Fry, a retiree living with his wife Maureen who is very
particular about the difference between jam and marmalade. 



One morning, Harold receives a post from an old co-worker, Queenie Hennessy (a name evoking images of
dollies, pink things and frolicky puppies) who writes her goodbyes from a
hospice. With a response in hand, Harold walks to the mail box to reply with well
wishes, but along the way is compelled to deliver the letter by hand, believing
that as long as he keeps walking, Queenie will live. 



This is the first novel by Rachel Joyce, incorporating a light read with bold characters that come to life- heck, Harold
could be one of our grandfathers…if they were British…

Media, Darling: Jeni Besworth

Jeni B. entered the television industry over 12 years ago and never looked back. She has met, produced & interviewed some of the biggest celebrities. Highlights include: helping Pink make a new outfit with scissors & tape seconds before her live performance. Accidentally making a pass at Jon Cryer. Interviewing Tommy Chong from the living room floor after he threw his back out. Becoming the voice of Cribs.
Jeni is currently the supervising producer of Oh So Cosmo on Cosmo TV. Other credits include Open Mike with Mike Bullard, Canadian Idol, the Juno Awards, Walk of Fame, Project Runway Canada, MTV, So You Think You Can Dance Canada and Much Music. And, she is not above unpacking Lady Gaga’s shoes for her.

Twitter: @jenibesworth, @Oh_So_Cosmo 

Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon?  
When I was in high school, my dream was to be on radio. So when I went to Ryerson, I finished the first year, thought I wouldn’t need any more schooling, and promptly left. I’ve been working in TV almost ever since!
Where would you like to be five years from now?
I am not aging very willingly so I don’t love looking ahead five years (ha), but if I must, I’d really like to still be working in a job I love. I have had the good fortune of being employed in this industry very consistently and I’d like to continue working on shows that are smart, informative and relevant. And personally, I hope I’m still kicking ass at being a good mama.

Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
 
Weirdly, it’s not always what you know, it’s how hard you’re willing to work to learn it. I am where I am because someone took a chance on me. Again and again. If you love what you do, and you put your whole heart into it, you’ll see results.

What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own?
I am newly in love with CBC Radio 2 – Drive with Rich Terfry, Q with Jian Ghomeshi, 99.9 Virgin Radio and my girl Taylor Kaye on Kiss 92.5. I watch a multitude of bad television shows – no judgement, it’s “research”. I’m 10 months off Facebook but have fallen in love with Twitter. I also frequent Lainey Gossip, People.com, George Stromboloupoulos’ site. I read Toronto Life, Today’s Parent and I really love Metro when I hop on the subway. 

Best interview you’ve ever had?
Working on the Bullard show was for sure a career highlight. Not only did I get to work with my best friends (and I literally sat across from my BFF every day!), the sheer amount of celebrities that passed through those doors on a regular basis was astounding. When I was the music producer, I not only booked the guests, but of course, pre-interviewed them. One time while trying to get any kind of interview out of Jack Black & Kyle Gass (Tenacious D), they jumped up mid-sentence, started playing air guitar and changed the words of TNT by AC/DC to ‘jeni b’. 

All of the interviews on Cribs have been amazing, as well. These people invite you into their homes and allow you to see them at their most intimate and they’ve almost all been gracious and lovely and kind. Jillian Barberie was a wonderful host. Bif Naked… what can I even say about her? She’s the bees knees. They’ve all exceeded my expectations.
But lastly, my true favourites came from interviewing some of the thousands of competitors that auditioned for Idol & SYTYCDC. My all time favourite thing is talking to “regular” peeps & finding out where they came from and why they are who they are today. Everybody has a story.

Worst?
 
I guess the worst interviews are the ones when you are left hanging. I’m so lucky that there are very few of these in my history.

Best advice you’ve ever been given?
 
My dad told me to “give a firm handshake and look ‘em in the eye.” And John Brunton (CEO of Insight Productions), who gave me my first big job and whom I highly respect, once turned to me while standing on George St. in St. John’s, Newfoundland, after a particularly long and stressful day of casting for Canadian Idol, and said “It’s only TV, baby!”. That has stuck with me for years.

It’s important and it’s wonderful to work in, but we’re not saving anyone’s life here. When everything is going to shit, I always remember that.

What rule(s) do you live your life by?
I’m a type-A, super organized, scheduled kind of gal. So lately I’m trying to be a little more open to living in the moment and realizing that it’s okay to be what I am, with a side of free spirit. One thing I definitely do is live every day with ‘pay it forward’ in mind. I’m the girl that returns my grocery cart to it’s proper place and will change route to help an elderly person up the stairs at the subway. Compassion doesn’t always win in this industry but I will never be able to not play by those rules. Oh, and manners are non-negotiable.

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

I know how busy everyone is, but a simple response to an inquiry goes a long way. I think taking the time to acknowledge people will make them keep coming back to you over and over.

Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
Honestly? Deb and rock-it. Every time I change jobs, there are lots of names I take with me. But I have a special top 10 that’s comprised of publicists and music reps that I know and love and have complete and total trust and confidence in. Deb and her team are polite and responsive and hard workers and, they’re in the know! Deb is always the first person I contact when I start something new and she always has content and suggestions for me.  [Ed. note: The love is mutual. jeni b is a kick ass producer, and an all around cool chick.]

I hate? Bullshit. And entitlement. And people who are mean to old folks, animals and children.  Being late makes me crazy.

I love?
Lola & Izzie. Tattoos. Cupcakes. My family. My friends. Music and dancing (in the comfort of my own living room). Writing in small letters (because I think they’re cuter). Movies, TV, magazines. Chocolate.

Reading?
I just finished Bossy Pants by Tina Fey and was completely irritating other subway passengers with my loud bursts of laughter. It’s really so funny. Now I’m about to delve back into Of Human Bondage which was a gift from a dear friend.

Best place on earth?
Just outside the door peeking into the place where my girls are singing at the top of their lungs, dancing around the room and playing their little hearts out (followed by huge squeezes). That, or on a tropical beach somewhere being served copious amounts of chocolate by a cute cabana boy.

Dinner guest?
Dad and Elvis and Ryan Gosling.

Hero?  

I admire and respect every single woman in my life for all different reasons, and I’d have to say they’re all my heroes. From my mom & sister to my best friends & co-workers, they’ve all worked hard to become who they are. They’ve all persevered and struggled and they juggle all the things in their lives like no one else (working mamas get extra props for their unbelievable multi-tasking). Advice is never far away and I’m forever grateful to be constantly inspired by them all.

Favourite app? 

What’s an app? Just kidding. Sort of.

Pool or ocean?
 
Ocean, every single time.

Voicemail or email?  

Email. I’m lightning fast at responding and my Blackberry is never far away.