An anonymous PR confession
Last Friday started as unremarkably as any other Friday in PR, a more relaxed attire, the radio blaring in the corner of the room, and scores of happy employees preparing for the weekend.
Fridays in PR are the best things about working for an agency – there are always drinks to go to after work and it’s the one day of the week where you can take a long lunch and have that pint without feeling guilty.
This particular Friday however, had a surprise in store.
We all send press releases out to hundreds of journalists every day. It’s what we do. Before sending, you slave over a media list to make sure you’ve got the most up to date contact addresses, and to save yourself the burden of updating excel sheets after a deluge of bounce backs.
You polish the story, where necessary you regionalise stats and quotes, you check, double check, and then check again that you’ve spelt all the words in the headline correctly and then…. you send. You get onto the phones and you sell in like your life depends upon it.
Journalists know we blanket send press releases out, but an unwritten rule exists in PR – you always bcc journalists and NEVER cc. So, you fiddle with Outlook so that the bespoke media list drops into the BCC section and after a final check you send.
Last Friday however, I committed the cardinal sin. If the CIPR kept a PR excommunication list in their leafy St James HQ, then my name would now be on it.
Not concentrating and wanting to send the my press release out before I went to a meeting, I skipped my usually rigorous press release sign off procedure and sent the press release cc’d to my entire media list! I had just sent the release cc’d to every national business editor in the country, as well as a series of business trade magazines. If that wasn’t bad enough, I had also copied in the rest of my account team which included the account director.
After I had overcome the feelings of nausea, I picked up the phones and begun the sell in. “oh you’re the idiot that copied us all into your release aren’t you?” was one of the nicer comments. There was a light at the end of the tunnel – most of the national journalists missed the error, mainly due to the fact that I had released the story the same day as billions of dollars, pounds and euros were being wiped off share values. ‘Another’ survey was not at the forefront of their minds.
The trades were less polite, a couple even said they weren’t going to run the story because of the cc error. Another said it was an ‘insult’. But, I ploughed on and the more open I was about the mistake the more the story seemed to strike a chord with a few of the writers – it remains to be seen whether the story will pick up coverage.
At the stroke of 5pm, I picked up my bag and headed to the pub. I hope I still have a job this time next week.