Once again, the digital world has enabled an unsuspecting PR player to unwittingly wreak havoc on him/herself and the organizations he/she represents.
Following on the heels of such embarrassing mistakes as the GCI Intern who took on Uber Blogger Jeff Jarvis’s unkind comments about Dell, the Weber AE who was labeled moron publicist of the month for incessantly pitching a KFC non-story to Gawker and, of course, Edelman’s infamous anything-but-transparent blogging work on behalf of Wal-Mart, we now have the Waggener Edstrom/Microsoft briefing book on Wired Magazine’s Fred Vogelstein.
As is customary before arranging any interview between a client and reporter, WagEd’s account team created a briefing book for their Microsoft client in which they describe what Vogelstein is like. Such information helps a client prepare for the interview and avoid any possible pitfalls.
Somehow, though, the briefing document fell into the wrong hands, Vogelstein’s. Amazingly, someone from WagEd actually e-mailed the Vogelstein briefing document to the editor himself. And, faster that one can type, ‘oh shit!’ Vogelstein had great material for a totally new and different type of story about Microsoft.
Naturally Vogelstein blogged about how the WagEd people described him as being, among other things, ‘tricky’ and someone who ‘digs for dirt.’
Mistakes happen, and we’re all human. But, as a result of someone’s mistake, deliberate or otherwise, WagEd has jeopardized a media relationship, gotten smashed from an image and reputation standpoint and, at the very least, not strengthened its long-standing relationship with Microsoft.
Having sent e-mails I later regretted, I now try my best to think through any potentially controversial correspondence before hitting the ‘send’ button. It’s a sad, but very real fact of the Web 2.0 world in which we live that a ‘send’ button can also send an individual’s or organization’s image straight to hell.
Thanks to Stephanie Chaney for the idea.