Mistakes happen – that’s a part of life. As creatives, it’s important to remember that the way an error is rectified is far more important than the mistake itself. The same goes for submitting to media outlets – mistakes are inevitable, but the way they are handled speaks volumes.
So, what’s an entrepreneur to do when you find yourself in the middle of an error? Here are some of the most common situations and the best way to respond to each.
You made a mistake. Ouch.
If you’re to blame for an error, take a moment to step back and look at the situation. In the greater picture, an honest mistake is more than likely not going to be the end of the world so don’t beat yourself up over it. At the same time, it’s important to understand that your oversight may have affected someone else (like a misspelled photographer’s name) so addressing your responsibility is always best.
When it comes to fixing a mistake, there is no such thing as being too early to the game. Once you are aware of it, take action to make amends with the editor, as well as the person who was affected by the error if applicable. Before reaching out to anyone, however, be sure to review the feature to ensure that there is only one mistake – you won’t want to have to apologize a second time! Write a sincere note to the editor to inform them of the error and provide the correct information – a polite apology can really go a long way in this situation. Once the issue has been addressed, reach out to the affected party to let them know everything has been handled and that you’ll send along the updated feature once corrected.
An editor made a mistake. Uh-oh.
Editors are humans, just like you! Again, be sure to review the whole feature to check for other mistakes before reaching out. When emailing the editor to let them know of the error, be courteous and understanding. There is no reason to burn bridges over a typo. If somebody else was affected by the error, reach out to let them know it has been addressed and will be taken care of promptly.
Somebody else made a mistake. Oops.
In some cases, the fault does not fall on you. Perhaps a couple sent over a misspelled vendor name or maybe another vendor sent over a wrong credit for someone else. In this case, it’s best not to play the blame game to avoid hurt feelings. Handling this situation is a judgment call – if you have a long-standing relationship with the editor, it may be easiest for you to let him or her know about the mistake. If not, it may make more sense to ask the person responsible for the mistake to reach out and copy you on the correspondence.
If you notice an error in a feature you were not a part of submitting, kindly reach out to the person who did submit it and inform them of the mistake. Ask how they’d like to rectify the situation and take it from there. If you’re not sure who submitted the feature to begin with, don’t be afraid to take matters into your own hands with a polite and friendly email to the editor.
Last but not least, a reminder that mistakes happen to the best of us – they are no reason to be distraught. Once everything has been solved, take a look at your standard operating procedures to see if there is a gap somewhere and look for ways to ensure that the same error never happens again. From there, it’s on to the next one!
Meghan Ely, OFD Consulting Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.