Opps. I mean…Oops!


Life doesn’t always give you an eraser.

You’re judged on everything you say and do. Your reputation rises or falls based on whether you’re perceived as wise and substantial, or shallow and ephemeral.

If you only get one shot to prove your worth, you better make it count.

A single misused word can spell trouble for your reputation. Doesn’t matter whether the error was caused by autocorrect, overlooked by Spell Check, or the result of unfamiliarity. The ultimate responsibility is yours.

Some mistakes might cause others to laugh out loud at their desk, but other mistakes might open you and your organization up to a whole world of trouble — lawsuits, investigations, loss in brand value, etc.

Here are three examples of how things unraveled because of one wrong word. (And some hints how to avoid it.)

Communications expert fails to communicate. In an article about the importance of communicating with employees, the author lost credibility in the first sentence when he wrote: “To understand how to effectively communication in the workplace…” Had it been buried toward the end after the author gained the reader’s trust, at least it may have been overlooked or dismissed as “Ahhh, happens to the best of us!” (We aren’t without blame either. Sometimes things still slip through the cracks.)

Tech aide goes out phishing. Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta received a suspicious email advising him to change his password, so he turned it over to IT. An IT aide emailed back that the suspect email was “legitimate.” So Podesta clicked on it, and his system was hacked revealing a trove of embarrassing internal communications that damaged the campaign. The problem? The IT aide had meant to say the phishing email was “illegitimate.”

Applying for the wrong industry?  A corporate PR executive was reviewing a stack of resumes to fill a position on his staff.The first applicant’s cover letter began, “I’m looking for a job in pubic relations.” (Good for a laugh, but bad news for the applicant.)

You’ve worked tirelessly to get where you are in your career. Don’t let seemingly small things slip through the cracks and risk damaging your reputation.

Read the material out loud. It’s an old trick editors use. There’s something special that happens when you take the time to read out loud. Reading something confidential? Even taking the time to mouth out the words silently will allow you to catch boo-boos.

Take a coffee break. Put the material down and let it marinate while you take a break to work or enjoy something else. When you come back you’ll be refreshed and able to tackle it with a fresh perspective.

Have someone else proof it. If you have the time, have another pair of eyes take a gander before you hit Send, Publish, Submit, or Print. Most people are willing to lend a hand for a quick one-over.

(Did you catch the misused word?)


To celebrate the launch of our two books, we’ve made the Kindle version of each available for only $0.99! Check out  A Board Member’s Guide to Crisis PR and A Lawyer’s Guide to Crisis PR (Second Edition) on Amazon.

“Because Reputation Is Your Most Valuable Asset”

Gillott Communications is a Strategic PR firm. We’re Fixers. Crisis & Reputation Management. Litigation. Media Relations. Crisis Prep. More than half a century of expertise working with clients to resolve issues both in and outside the media’s glare — in their professional and personal lives.

You can reach Roger Gillott and Eden Gillott Bowe directly at 310-396-8696.

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Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net


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