A guest post from Jessica Taylor – The Apollo Group
Anyone working in corporate communications can relate to the awful, sinking feeling you get the moment you realize you’ve sent an email with a big typo to five thousand employees. Or the wave of panic that comes when you learn moments before an event that your first speaker isn’t going to arrive in time.
I’d compare it to having a bowling ball thrown at your stomach. It’s one of the worst things that can happen in this profession, where people rush to shoot the messenger, but we’re only human and it’s bound to happen to all of us occasionally.
The key is learning how to recover.
In a situation where you’ve sent out the wrong information or a damaging typo, I’ve found the best way to recover is to respond quickly. The sooner you can correct misinformation, the less time your audience has to dwell on any errors. If the faux pas was sent via email, send a quick follow-up that acknowledges and corrects the error.
Be honest and succinct; the goal is to refocus readers on the right message without giving them time to dwell on the wrong one. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a pain to send two messages, and it won’t earn you any points with your employees, but the act of fessing up to a mistake can actually enhance your credibility in the long run.
The same approach works well when timely information changes suddenly. Imagine you’ve invited hundreds of employees to an event, and just before it’s set to begin, you learn that the keynote speaker is unable to attend. This announcement isn’t going to please anyone, but a flimsy excuse will only make things worse.
A lack of transparency fuels rumors. That’s why even the most awkward professional moments can be turned into opportunities to build trust. So always be upfront; it’s better for your audience to know their CEO’s flight was cancelled than to wonder if he blew them off for golf.
Effective communication is an art and a balancing act. While no one’s immune from the occasional humiliating typo, those of us who recover with grace ultimately end up on top.
The Apollo Group is an IABC Phoenix chapter sponsor.