Handling Mistakes in Public

When, inevitably you make a mistake, or a bad call, what do you do? Pretend it didn’t happen, hope it will just go away, wrap it in corporate speak and pray it just blows over before the boss gets back?

For those that missed it, there was some fun and games yesterday as O’Reilly got their knickers in a corporate twist over the copyright of “web2.0”. Sheesh, how un-web2 can you get?

Owning Your Mistakes

Read the O’Reilly response to this PR fiasco then read Rick Segal’s excellent analysis and advice on how it should have been handled.

First, if you own it, step up, take the direct hit, and stay put to deal with the fallout. “Brady” on the O’Reilly web site does the standard our pr people released the following statement nonsense and off we go into corporate-speak dribble. Sara Winge didn’t personally get on the blog and say, I made this call. A VP of Corporate Communications should know better, should have anticipated the fallout and, even with Tim on vacation, should have known how to deal with this.

The post is a well deserved slam at O’Reilly’s corporate muppets, but also has some great advice for how to handle these things when they happen.

But Dont SuckToo Much…

In contrast, in a fun post also from yesterday Nick Carr slaps Steve Rubel over a somewhat ridiculous post entitled I like companies that say “we suck”. I thnk there is a balance that needs to be struck between between showing accountability, and communicating clearly with your customers/readers/users and handling the day to day business of running a company.

It doesn’t pay to take these things too far, but they’re certainly best not ignored. As Nick point’s out, he’d rather deal with companies that spend their time creating better products than whining about how much they suck.

Friday food for thought….

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2 thoughts on “Handling Mistakes in Public

  1. So far the job by O’Reilly is poor. I’m amazed a Web 2.0 guy like him is on vacation and has no access to a PDA or anything 😉 It would take a few minutes for him to post.

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