No Room for Error

Perplexed ManRecently, TechCrunch featured a post about an e-mail they received from a PR firm, which the publicist obviously didn’t mean to send. To summarize, the firm accidentally left an internal exchange at the bottom of the e-mail that discussed the actual art of pitching TechCrunch.

Since I started out in the PR industry, I’ve quickly seen more and more publicists get blasted throughout the interwebs for their mistakes. Granted this public exhibition of PR faux pas has made communications professionals more aware and cautious about what they send out for mass consumption. One could also argue that at the same time, it’s made us totally terrified.

Why so scared? It seems in today’s public relations world, you just aren’t allowed to make mistakes. With blogs, web sites, Twitter, etc., anyone can blast a publicist in a public forum for making an error.  Yes, some PR slip-ups are worse than others, and those super awful ones probably deserve the heckling – but do all of them?

Take the TechCrunch incident for example. Should the publicist have been more careful? Yes. However, at least within the context of the e-mail, the PR firm was having a slightly on point discussion on how to pitch the writer.

Before I hit the send button, I try and quadruple check everything to make sure I’m not doing something totally stupid. Is this comma in the right place? Wait, wait the journalist totally covers this topic correct? Let me go online and triple check and make sure. I refer to this practice as heightened e-mail anxiety. This routine doesn’t mean I never make mistakes. I will be the first to admit that I’ve had a few “oops” over the years.

In any job, especially if you are new and learning the ropes, you are bound to make a mistake here and there. It’s normal – or should I be so bold as to say it’s human. In PR it’s a whole different ballgame. One lapse in judgment and your reputation, job security, PR future, and self-esteem could all be at risk.

I understand the relevance of blogs like the Bad Pitch Blog that try to educate the public relations community by showing us what not to do.  Yet, the practice of PR bashing on the internet is becoming an all too common occurrence – I mean major technology web sites are talking about our mistakes. It seems as though anything is fair game. As publicists, are we just not allowed to make mistakes?

What do you think readers:  Should everyone lighten up a little bit? Do you think PR bashing has gone too far? Or, do you say game on?

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