In the fast-paced world of media and public relations, the accuracy of a press release is paramount. However, mistakes can occur. When they do, it’s essential to address them swiftly and effectively. Here’s a guide on how to correct errors in a press release.
There’s nothing more heart-stopping than realizing you just sent out a confusing or flat out incorrect press release. That freezing feeling in your chest is you seeing into the future where your business is leaking money due to the faulty document you just sent out on the wire.
Luckily, there are some things you can do to counteract mistakes in a press release. They don’t all end with you escaping to Guadalajara, either!
The first step in correcting a press release is to acknowledge the mistake immediately internally. This can be anything from a factual error, a typo, or a misrepresentation. It’s crucial to be transparent about these errors to maintain credibility.
Not all errors warrant the same level of response. Assess the impact of the mistake:
These may not need a public correction but should be fixed in any online versions.
These should be promptly corrected online, and a note should be sent to recipients clarifying the mistake.
Major errors require a more public and formal correction.
If the press release is published online, update it as soon as possible. It’s best practice to indicate that an update or correction has been made and detail the nature of the change.
Inform everyone who received the original press release about the error and correction. This includes journalists, stakeholders, and anyone who may have shared or reported on the information. This can be done either through a retraction or a correction:
Is the press release still making its way to the reporters and editors of the world? Then you still have time to snatch that thing away before anyone sees it! The best thing to do is call (don’t email in this situation) and ask for them to ignore the press release. If they were thinking about printing it, they should honor your request, especially since they probably have 500 other PRs they could put up instead.
When you ask them to hold it, also tell them you’ll be sending out a corrected version. This might actually give you a little bit of a chance to get noticed. At least they’ll remember your name when your follow up comes in.
If the press release has already hit the morning paper, then it’s too late to hide it. Now the main thing you need to do is correct the bad information on the press release. If you think it would be damaging enough, then send a correction to the paper. If the reporters there are nice enough, they’ll print it no problem.
After addressing the immediate issue, review how the error occurred. This might involve checking fact-checking procedures, editorial reviews, or distribution protocols. The goal is to prevent similar mistakes in the future.
Every error is an opportunity to improve. Analyze what went wrong and use these insights to strengthen your press release process.
Even if they don’t, not all is lost. Get the word out there by writing up a new press release and sending it out. Put it up on your website and Twitter accounts that the info is wrong. Don’t just let it slip away unnoticed as your customers might continue to believe the bad info is real.
The Red Cross did this awhile ago. They managed to take a goof and turn it into a lot of donations toward their cause. You may be able to do the same thing with your little error. If you see an opportunity to tease yourself about it, then go for it.
Many consumers appreciate a little self-deprecation. It reminds them that no matter how big a company is, it’s still run by humans, and humans make mistakes! If this happens to you, don’t try to escape it, embrace it and remind everyone that the people behind your business are just as human as everyone else.
Mistakes in press releases can happen, but how they are handled is crucial. Prompt, transparent, and appropriate responses not only correct the errors but also demonstrate a commitment to accuracy and integrity. By following these steps, organizations can effectively manage these situations and maintain their credibility.
This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (https://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Download a free copy of the PR Checklist – a 24 point list of Press Release Dos and Don’ts here: https://www.ereleases.com/free-offer/pr-checklist/