Ok, I’ll admit it. I really love the show The Newsroom on HBO. I recognize that it’s got its flaws, but frankly, I like it. Time will tell how it all plays out (am I the only one who thinks it’s rapidly getting closer to real time?), but I was particularly struck by an event that happened in the second episode. Without hopefully giving out any spoilers, a character accidentally sends an email out to the whole company that was only supposed to go to one person. Cringe-worthy, indeed, this is the stuff of nightmares of anyone with email access. But, from time to time, it’s bound to happen – and sometimes a lot more publicly.
To err is human…
As it turns out, no one is immune. Particularly now, in the 24-hour-news-cycle-oh-yeah-and-twitter times we live in, a public gaffe can potentially lead to some pretty nasty backlash. I’m sure most of you can think of several cases in the last couple of weeks alone where an easily made mistake has led to some pretty loud public outcry, with some pretty widely varying results.
So, how does a person or organization recover from an error like this? Well, there are a few articles offering advice, and all of them say pretty much the same thing: own it, communicate it, fix it, and learn from it. Easier said than done, I know, but it turns out, they’re right. Hiding from a problem, victimizing your organization, blaming others, and committing common mistakes more than once are really the worst ways to reassure the public that you know the landscape – even if you truly are being wrongfully presented.
Those who fail to plan…
Now, I’m not suggesting that you go rolling over every time the public doesn’t like what you’re organization is doing. Nor do I think you necessarily need to send out a retraction when your email blast has something that’s poorly formatted. Only you and your organization can and should decide when to execute on a correction if and when you feel its necessary. But, given the evolution of communication, it’s just good business sense for your organization to have some sort of contingency plan, just in case things go awry. Then, you can just cross your fingers and hope you never have to use it.
I’d love to hear more from our readers about who has either dealt with this sort of thing, is dealing with it now, or has started working on their plans. It’s a new era of communication, and the learning curve is steep, so any information you can share would be great!