Your Worst Media Nightmare Stories

Every P.R. professional who works with the media long enough has a media nightmare story to share.

Last week, I asked you to share your worst media nightmare stories – and you had some doozies to tell. Here are some of the highlights (lowlights?) you shared, along with a tip or two to help readers avoid a similar fate.

This one from Pamela Principe-Golgolab made me laugh:

“A simple typo turned a headline for a luxury condominium [that was supposed to read] ‘High Rise Condominiums Open This Sunday’ into ‘High Risk Condominiums Open This Sunday.’ I still think the editor was goofing on us – needless to say, a retraction was printed.”

John Landsberg was also haunted by a typo:

“I worked for months to get a reporter to visit my client’s business. I was confident he would be impressed and it would result in a nice feature story. Everything went perfectly as the reporter spent hours interviewing executives and touring the facility. We waited excitedly for the day the story was to appear. Unfortunately, the reporter somehow misspelled the company name in the headline and throughout the entire story. My client was furious and I was left to handle the situation.”

Tip to readers: You can help eliminate typos by sending reporters your name, title, company name, and preferred bio line to try to avoid a similar fate. I suspect John did that – it doesn’t work every time, but it often helps.

A. Cross’s nightmare centered on a false rumor: 

“Social Media created a rumour saying my organization was going to do something awful. When we corrected the error to the media, it was spun that the public outcry stopped the situation. Often now the misinformation is brought up as a backgrounder when our organization is mentioned in the media, regardless if the story is a ‘do good’ story or not. Correcting the misinformation has been an ongoing battle.”

Tip to readers: In a similar situation, you might consider writing your own blog post on the subject and trying to get it to the top of search results pages using search engine optimization (SEO). 

Reader Ellen Beth Levitt shared her press conference nightmare:

“Once, while working for a hospital, I arranged a news conference to announce the opening of a new orthopedic center. I didn’t know it but the doctors who were co-directors of the new center had invited their wives, children and other relatives to the news conference. They showed up just as we were getting underway and sat down toward the front. The wives were in fur coats, the children were crying – and those of us who organized the event were mortified! To make matters worse, one of the doctors had a young patient who had been operated on earlier that day wheeled in during the news conference – he threw up as he reached the front of the room.”

Tip to readers: You might consider issuing press conference guidelines to all attendees in advance that specify proper press conference protocol and offer guidance regarding where family members should sit – if they’re allowed to attend at all. The front rows should be reserved for press only.

Thank you for sharing your stories! If you haven’t already weighed in, feel free to leave your stories in the comment section below.

Is your executive team long overdue for a media training session? Please contact us to learn more about our customized media training workshops.

Related: Is It Unprofessional to Ask a Reporter For The Questions Before an Interview? (See answers in the comment section)

Related: What Tricks Do You Use to Manage Stage Fright? (see answers in the comment section)