Sometimes your best laid plans go astray no matter how likely they are to work. You can spend weeks upon weeks imagining every scenario possible with a PR campaign only to see it fall apart for no reason at all. Not everything can be a success, unfortunately, and you truly never know until you put it all out there.
But while every campaign can’t be a success, you can learn something from every failed campaign. Even the biggest disaster you’ve ever suffered through can teach you vital lessons about your business and the public at large. You just have to be willing to look at where you might have gone wrong in the past.
What Could Be Different?
While you may not have had any control over what went wrong, you still should take a look at how you could have done things differently. If the campaign totally failed, then you likely made a misstep at some point. Of course, you don’t know what this misstep was until it happened, which is how we learn and get better.
So try to break the campaign apart and see which aspects you could try differently next time. For example, if the rest of your idea might have hit it out of the park, but you realize the social media aspect wasn’t strong enough, then you’ve learned a valuable lesson for the future.
On the other hand, you don’t want to get stuck thinking about the past. You can only consider what went wrong for so long before you should just move on. Ruing the past can leave you spinning in circles and worrying that everything new you do will also fail.
During the fall of your campaign you were most likely worried about trying to save face or set things into recovery mode. Therefore you may not have listened to your customers quite like you should; in fact, you may have disregarded what they said altogether. But now is the time to go back and think about what they said.
There’s likely some real solid info in their words, even if they came off as super angry or rude. While it was happening, you probably thought they were just acting like a troll – but angry people often speak their mind directly, showing you what really upset them. This is likely to be the real source of the campaign failure.
If nobody is around to be angry – ask! Find out what your regular customers thought about the campaign by asking them. Also, see if they have any ideas how you can improve in the future.
Get an Outside Opinion
You’re likely a little too close to the situation to get an objective opinion on what went wrong. You’ll always view what you learn through the lens of “yeah, but I made this, so it can’t be THAT bad.” This causes a huge problem if you want to move forward.
Do you have a mentor, colleague, or other trusted third party you can get real opinions from? Now’s the time to call in a favor or two. Ask them what they really think and how you can improve what you did. It’s important to get somebody you think will really be honest – you don’t want anyone sparing your feelings, as getting bad advice at this point could further sink your business!
What was your biggest PR failure? What did you learn from it that has served you well now?