• The Pepper Shaker

  • September 2010
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PR Fails

I think the best attitude to have when starting in the field of public relations is one that recognizes that sometimes you will fail. And that’s okay. Some of the best in the industry have their terrifying moments, too. It happens to everyone. And many of them they are able to laugh at those failures years later, so it’s best not to be too critical of yourself when it happens.

Public relations failures often occur when you are: telling untrue stories, overlooking important facts, forgetting key people, making assumptions, and do things just to look good. (I find this to be true in my personal life, too!)

When mistakes are made, it’s best to figure out where you stand and how to say you are sorry. You don’t always need to apologize or assume guilt where it’s not rightfully yours, but if it is, then you better fess up. Apple fell into this trap recently when they didn’t (at least for a very long time) admit their iPhones weren’t working right, and even deleted comments about it on their Web site’s open forum. I think if we remember that people are always looking, then we would be better off.

I came across this video today, showing how this PR guy totally tried to manipulate the situation he found himself in. A reporter had come to interview about how the local hospital was misusing funds. The PR director tries to intervene and cover up the situation and avoid the reporter. You will likely find him as annoying as I did.

I’m sure the communication director regrets his actions. He was probably acting out in panic. Can’t blame a reporter for doing some dirty work for a good story.

Here is a link to a LinkedIn discussion. Some public relations professionals discuss their own PR fails on it. I read it wondering what kinds of PR situations I might find myself in one day. Have you ever had any PR failures?


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