Our Faux Pas, An Open Letter

What can I say, we’re all human, we all multitask and every once in a while we make mistakes. In our emailing, social media-savvy, text-laden environment, our brains and our fingers are running 90 miles an hour and – let’s be honest – the odds of your auto-correct misconstruing what you wrote are never in your favor. With that said, the real question isn’t if you’ll ever make a mistake, but when you do make a mistake how will you handle it.

Here at Rhyme & Reason Design, we’ve created a pretty intensive checks and balances system for both internal work and client work in an effort to lessen the likelihood that a mistake will be made. However, as I mentioned above, mistakes happen, even if you are well prepared. In fact, I’m going to share a little anecdote of a recent faux pas I was accountable for and the immediate steps our team took to turn a whoops into a woo hoo!

The Process

Part of our own internal communication strategy involves deploying eblasts before and after we attend conferences. A pretty standard practice, I draft copy, Karen or Courtney design the layout, we send designed version with content to one of our editors. Evan builds the template in MailChimp, the entire team reviews at least two test emails and then Evan hits the moment of glory button on MailChimp and the eblast fills the inbox of attendees. Sounds like we have it down to a Science. Well the last eblast process followed this exact protocol and the attendees of the North Carolina Governor’s Conference on Tourism let us know that we did something wrong. #Awkward.

The Mistake

After sending out our eblast, I received an email informing me of my mistake. Face palm. So what was the mistake? Great question. We sent a follow up eblast quickly recounting our experience at the conference, what we learned and letting everyone know that they could contact us if they need help with their destination marketing initiatives. Short, sweet and with a call to action to boot. Unfortunately, a pretty big copy error made it through every round of edits and reviews. You see we had the pleasure of hearing Charles Frazier, the author of Cold Mountain (Renee Zellweger took home an Oscar for her supporting role in the movie adaptation of the same name) and a variety of other North Carolina-based novels, speak on the last day of the conference. As a writer, I was truly inspired by his words, except if you received my eblast you would never have known that because I referred to him as Chris Frazier. Ugh.

As a marketing and design firm, we don’t often flex our PR muscles, but this certainly afforded us the opportunity. Upon receiving the email notification (mere moments after deployment) we had a decision to make. Do we pretend it never happened and assume less than half of the people we sent the eblast to actually opened it, or do we own up to our mistake?

Decision Time

Believe it or not, we debated those options for a bit. On one hand, statistically we know the open rate is less than 50% and clearly six people thought Charles was a Chris. On the other hand, we have the chance to show the kind of business we are – creative, quick to respond and willing to admit we are wrong and fix it.

Clearly, we chose the latter option. Between the four of us, we came up with a clever headline, found an on-trend topic (thank you John Travolta for butchering names at the Oscars) and whipped up a layout. In 15 minutes we had a fix headed to inboxes and turns out it was better received than the original blast. See the stats below:

NC CVB Follow Up Eblast

  • 169 Subscribers
  • 33.3% Opens
  • 4.2% Clicks

Our Apologies to Charles Frazier Eblast

  • 169 Subscribers
  • 48.8% Opens
  • 7.1% Clicks

What did we learn through this process?

  1. Mistakes happen
  2. Weigh the pros and cons of responding
  3. Own up to your mistake if you are responding, but do so in a short, creative manner
  4. Respond quickly (if you choose to respond)
  5. Learn from your mistake and remember it in the future