While I was on my way to Impact in Orlando last week, I got a request for help from good friend and visibility expert Nancy Marmolejo, who felt she got a little ‘slap’ from the editors at Inc. Magazine, who published her letter to the editor about Twitter – and added their own comments with the help of Twitter co-founder Biz Stone. (Come on, is that really his name?) Read all about it at Nancy’s blog here.
So I dropped what I was doing to come up with some strategies to help.
The thing is, sometimes it does happen. You do a great interview or write an amazing letter to the editor. But once it appears in the media, you’re dumbstruck: what you thought you said or wrote isn’t showing you in the best light.
Believe it or not, you DO have options.
First, take a breath and evaluate the situation. Then, depending on that evaluation, do one of the following:
- If it’s really not that serious (for example, a typo in your letter), consider letting it go. It really will be forgotten quickly.
- If you think you were misquoted or your content was edited to change the meaning, contact the reporter you originally dealt with. Do not go above his or her head, unless utterly necessary. Think of it this way: how would you feel if you made a mistake but the person told your boss instead of coming to you to resolve it? It stinks – and you probably wouldn’t be so keen on working with that person again, would you? By trying to resolve the issue with the reporter, you are more likely to gain respect, rather than upset them.
- If you made the faux pas – even an honest one, admit it. Ask for a follow up story to explain your point of view, but don’t expect one. If you have a blog, write about the mistake quickly and explain your position. Find other ways to engage your constituents to help make lemonade out of lemons. Admitting you were wrong is the right thing to do. But if you do it well, your prospects will actually more attracted to you, because you’re like them – human – and you’re honest about it!
No matter what happens, know that in a few days some other issue from some other source will be the headline. So, this too, shall pass.
Nancy handled the whole ‘incident’ with grace and humor, a winning combination. And by reading all the comments and tweets she got, she actually came out smelling like a rose.