By Tiffany Miller, Account Supervisor, R&J Public Relations
I’ve spent the better part of 2013 working on a brand diagnostic project for one of our clients. I tirelessly immersed myself in their culture, examining internal and external communications, and by the end of the process I had conducted comprehensive in-person and phone interviews with dozens of employees and clients and surveyed hundreds of stakeholders. All of these efforts culminated in the Executive Report that my boss and I would present to their CEO and Marketing Manager.
I spent close to two weeks finessing the final report, and after months of working on the project I could honestly say that I was really proud of the final product — until I got to the meeting to present the report. That’s when it happened. As I sat down to pass out the report to the CEO, their Marketing Manager, and my boss, my heart sank, my stomach did a somersault, and my blood felt like it was on fire. I had made a mistake that I didn’t catch in the dozens of times that I’d read through the report.
As expletives ran through my mind, I realized that I had spelled the company name wrong. And even worse, the typo appeared on every single page in the report. Ugh!
Unfortunately, there was no hiding it and I apologized to both my client and my boss for my careless mistake. Not only was I embarrassed for the mistake but I was angry with myself for having something so careless diminish the months of hard work I had put into this project.
Since I’m not Marty McFly and don’t have access to Doc or the DeLorean (yes, that was a Back to the Future reference) I couldn’t go back in time and fix the typo. But I could try to fix it as quickly as possible and make a thoughtful gesture to further demonstrate the sincerity of my apology and my commitment to the client.
As soon as I got back to the office I fixed the typo (on all 29 pages) and reprinted new reports and wrote handwritten notes to both the CEO and Marketing Manager expressing how sorry I was for the careless mistake, and assuring them that it wouldn’t happen again and that I had hoped that it didn’t take away from the report. I then had the reports and handwritten notes dropped off at the client’s office within two hours of our previous meeting.
Luckily when we met with the client the next week, the CEO and Marketing Manager expressed how much they appreciated how quickly I had gotten them a revised report and how the handwritten note was a nice touch. Bullet dodged.
This isn’t my first mistake and it certainly won’t be my last. I learned several lessons and hopefully sharing my story will encourage others to own their mistakes, fix them as quickly as possible, learn from them and move on.