THEY GOT IT WRONG!
Recently I have refereed several situations where writers with online outlets made numerous factual mistakes in an article. Gone are the days of fact checking. It’s such a vivid image, though—can’t you picture the grizzled editor with the night shade slipping down his forehead, cigar clenched between his teeth, roaring his disapproval at a misplaced comma….?! No longer.
What to do? The winery/client is upset. Why didn’t the writer get it right? Names of wines are wrong. Names of types of wines are wrong. The wrong job title was used. A name was misspelled. People will be confused. And so it goes.
FIND A FLAK JACKET
This actually introduces us to a bigger area: it’s the publicist-journalist-client interface. I often talk about providing a flak jacket for my clients; it’s something I really should do (an army surplus store? Where do you find flak jackets today?). So here’s the message: Do Not Take It Personally. Repeat as often as necessary. The journalist isn’t out to screw you. They’re scrambling to finish their story and rush off to the next one. There’s no personal animus. There’s no intent to ‘ding’ you. There’s just Real Life. Busy. Distracted. No time to check. On to the next.
So once the winery and publicist have vented to each other and calmed down, there are a few options. As in almost any situation in the practice of PR, do you have a “real” relationship with the writer? Will they be amenable to hearing about a few inaccuracies…which means they might be open to making some corrections?
If you have a green light there, then by all means contact the writer and graciously ask if some correcting or updating might be possible. Be ready that it might NOT be: some online formats are very complicated and the inputting may not be entirely in the purview of the writer.
If the writer is amenable, then don’t prolong the conversation. I suggest that you copy the text into a Word file, make the corrections using editing software and then send it back. This makes it very easy for the writer to 1) see the mistakes (or corrections) and 2) to input the material. Another alternative of course is to delineate the changes referring to specific lines in the article.
JUST THE FACTS
A word of caution: this doesn’t apply to philosophical differences or turns of phrase: this only works when the ‘mistakes’ are fact-based—-a vintage, a name, a spelling, a release date, etc.
If you don’t get that green light, then console everyone with the old PR adage: INK IS INK.