10 mistakes and the lessons learned from the PR world

They don’t teach this stuff in school. These are the kinds of lessons you learn on the job.


When you’re young and inexperienced, being thrown into the PR world can be quite the adjustment. However, I’m a huge fan of channeling mistakes into a productive learning experience. I recently surveyed my coworkers and asked them about times when they experienced their worst “face palm” moments.

The following is a culmination of 10 mistakes and lessons learned from being in the PR world. They don’t teach this stuff in school, it’s learned through experience, trial and error ,and now (hopefully) through learning from others peoples’ mistakes.

1. Life>work

MISTAKE: You didn’t separate your regular life from your work.

LESSON LEARNED: Don’t feel guilty about leaving work at work. You do not need to work all the time. You would go crazy, experience a meltdown, or fail to function as well at work if you don’t relax in your personal life.

2. #email

MISTAKE: You checked your email on multiple devices.

LESSON LEARNED: When you check emails on multiple devices—work computer, phone, home computer, etc.—you forget which emails you’ve already addressed and end up not responding to important ones.

3. Wasn’t me

MISTAKE: You admitted to a mistake in an email.

LESSON LEARNED: When you make a mistake, it’s better to pick up the phone and discuss it. You never want to give your client or contact hard (written) evidence to use against you.

4. Whoops!

MISTAKE: You made the client feel like they are not a priority.

LESSON LEARNED: If a clients asks if you have time to do something, the answer should be yes. Afterward, find a way to make it work, whether that means delegating or reprioritizing your workload.

5. Just sayin’.

MISTAKE: You tried to help.

LESSON LEARNED: No matter what your intentions, don’t try to help in a situation when you don’t have to. If a client or journalist is having a meltdown or is complaining to your coworker about something and you think you can help, let it go. After they leave, ask someone you work with if there’s any way you can help. It’s best to stay out of it and let your boss handle it.

6. #Sins.

MISTAKE: You pitched a journalist the day before an event.

LESSON LEARNED: If you just found out about an event, don’t bother trying to get media to come to it. It will irritate them that you waited until the last minute. It’s better to pick up the phone and say, “Hey, (so and so), I just found out about this event, and I know it’s last minute but … can you attend? If not, no worries, just wanted to make sure you knew I didn’t forget about you.” Most likely they won’t be able to go, but they’ll appreciate the gesture.

7. My bad.

MISTAKE: You belittled the client.

LESSON LEARNED: No matter what it is, always try to remain positive. For example, if the client asks about using a particular photographer, and you know that photographer is terrible, instead of saying “that photographer sucks,” say something like, “You know, I think I know someone who would be a better fit for this …”

8. Face palm.

MISTAKE: You didn’t BCC people in a mass email.

LESSON LEARNED: Always put contacts in the BCC field instead of CC when sending mass emails. People don’t want strangers to gain access to their email address.

9. Calendar.

MISTAKE: You didn’t put every meeting on the calendar.

LESSON LEARNED: You missed a meeting. No matter how great your memory, put every meeting, phone call, webinar that you must attend on your calendar so you will receive alerts when things are coming up. You can even set alerts to notify you 24 hours in advance.

10. Oh, sh*t.

MISTAKE: You sent your client your media list.

LESSON LEARNED: This is a bad idea for two reasons. One, your client may have someone internally start contacting those people, pushing you out of the job. Two, if you both end up contacting the media, the journalists may get irritated that you’re doubling up.

Nicole Rose Dion is social media coordinator/graphic designer at The Abbi Agency. Follow Nicole on Twitter @nicolerosedion. A version of this story first appeared on The Abbi Agency blog.

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Topics: PR

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