Thursday, August 20, 2009

What we can learn from Brody PR's mistake.

This week has been an interesting one in the PR and marketing world. There has been a ton of discussion about Brody PR's "fail" yesterday, where Beth Brody, President of Brody PR, sent out a pitch via email to a large group of professionals in PR, social media, marketing, and advertising, as well as some very well-known bloggers and journalists...and used the cc: field, instead of the bcc: field.

I wasn't on the receiving end of said email, but have been following this story out of sheer interest. The email triggered a number of "reply-alls" from angered recipients, and a flurry of activity on Twitter and in the blogosphere. Instead of responding immediately, Ms. Brody inadvertently poured some fuel on the fire and delayed sending a response until several hours after the incident. Her response was the same on each blog I checked (including a post by Chris Abraham and Ken Wheaton's post on AdAge). I found it to be very brief, and somewhat impersonal; her text is pasted below.

An apology from Brody PR - I created a list of social media experts who might be interested in reviewing a new guide to social media for small biz. I inadvertently put the list name in the cc: box, rather than the bcc: box. A few folks must have hit the "reply all" button, rather than clicking on the “unsubscribe link” at the bottom, which started a stream of spam. Please accept my personal apology, albeit a little late in the day, since I was trying to remove everyone who wanted to be unsubscribed from the list immediately.


What can marketers and PR professionals learn from this situation? A few thoughts:

1. Proofread your entire email. And then do it again. Include the subject line and the to/cc/bcc fields as part of your proofing. Haste makes waste, and too many people have smacked themselves in the forehead for a hastily composed message.

2. If the house is on fire, get out the hose. In other words, if you've angered people, and they're letting you know that they're angry, respond immediately. Ms. Brody said that her delay in response was due to the fact that she was handling the unsubscribe requests generated by her email. In my opinion, that was a poor judgement call. If she knew no other emails were going to be sent out right away, she should have dealt with the kerfuffle first. And on a related note, why was she managing the unsubscribe requests herself? Seems like that could have been something that was easily delegated.

3. Consider alternative methods of communication. Why not post the pitch on a blog, announce it via Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn, or pick up the phone? As proven here, email is not always the best tool to share information.

What do you think? What else could Brody PR have done better?

4 comments:

  1. Whenever you're sending out a mass mail you have to be extra careful. This woman wasn't. Also, she didn't use a mass mailing program like Campaign Monitor or Constant Contact.

    Regardless, I think the response was completely inappropriate and that's why I wrote this post:

    Social media "gurus" and bloggers are egotistical jerks.
    http://www.sparkminute.com/?p=915

    Also, if you want a real PR fail story, read this one. It's a two parter where the client comes in with a completely obtuse move in the end.

    Hey PR, bloggers are not tools to be used
    http://www.sparkminute.com/?p=497

    UPDATE: Bad PR experience story. PR firm's client is obtuse
    http://www.sparkminute.com/?p=514

    ReplyDelete
  2. David,

    Thanks very much for your comments. I agree wholeheartedly that Brody PR would have much better served using an email campaign manager. The social media universe seems to have found a new scapegoat. For Brody's sake, I hope this blows over quickly; my guess is that we'll all likely be talking about something else in a week.

    Just checked out your blog and am nodding my head in agreement at your "Hey PR" post, and the follow-up. As someone who's worked on both the agency and corporate sides, it's amazing to me that anyone who calls themselves a PR pro would ever do that...or that a client could be so blatantly obtuse. Yikes! You've made some great points that we all would do well to remember; have posted a link to your blog via Twitter (@sarasgraham).

    Thanks again for reading.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dear Sara,
    I had been thinking about starting a blog for a while but never seemed to have enough time. Some very helpful folks offered me valuable tips on avoiding my mistake, which I have summarized here, http://brodypr.blogspot.com/
    I also hope that others can learn from my errors.
    Beth Brody

    ReplyDelete
  4. Beth,

    Thanks very much for your comments and for sharing your experience. We all make mistakes, and I really admire how honest your post is. Best wishes and congrats on launching your blog - look forward to reading more from you.

    ReplyDelete