Correction is not a dirty word. Mistakes happen – here’s how to fix them.
Eventually all companies will make a mistake. It may be a big mistake or a tiny, insignificant error. But it will be made at one time or another. When a mistake happens, most of us do all that we can to correct it before it snowballs.
A mistake made on a live press release is a dilemma that can be fixed very simply: by issuing an updated press release, or in some cases, a full wire correction. While that may sound scary, every paper of record has had to correct misinformation at some point, and has done so without trepidation; doing so via the wire medium is just as easy.
A correction does not, and should not, be the big, bad, boogeyman used to frighten eager, young marketing professionals. There are simple methods to ensure that incorrect information that has been sent out will be corrected. Here’s an example: your company is planning a webcasting event and in your zeal to publish your announcement, the date given is Tuesday, April 17, 2013. As it turns out though, April 17, 2013 is a Wednesday. This day/date mismatch needs to be corrected to ensure that stakeholders, as well as all interested parties, will know to tune in on the correct date.
Once the mix-up has been identified there are two basic ways to handle the situation: by issuing an updated press release, or by issuing a wire correction. By notifying Marketwire, you can discuss your options in greater detail and your company can decide on the best course of action.
Option 1: Updated Press Release
An updated press release is, in general terms, a re-issue of exactly the same content as was previously circulated, with two major changes: words such as “update,” “revised” or “new information” appear in the headline to notify readers of a change from the original document, and the correct information, as in the day/date mismatch in our example above, has been inserted in place of the original text.
Option 2: Wire Correction
A wire correction is also a separate press release that contains some, if not all, of the same content as was distributed originally, with the addition of a very crucial paragraph at the beginning explaining what information has been changed in the text, and describing its exact location in the document. This decisive correction paragraph is a clear message to the media and stakeholders of revised information, whereas the softer update option does not point out specifically what has been altered.
Both updated news releases and wire correction releases are distributed to the same journalists that received the earlier erroneous text. This ensures that all relevant parties have access to the most recent, accurate data.
Here are a few examples of textual changes that might best be handled by means of an update:
- Change in speaker at an event
- Alteration in the contact person or phone number for the media
- Minor rephrasing of text or diction (i.e. grand vs. large)
By choosing to issue an updated press release, the new text will not replace or overwrite any information previously distributed; however, it will be the newest information of record and will be the content used by journalists reporting on your company.
Sometimes though, updated information is just not enough and a clear recognition of inaccurate content must be made. Revisions that fall into this category include: incorrect financial numbers related to a company’s earnings, erroneous spelling of an individual’s name, or a mistaken title, and of course any false or untrue information regarding your company’s business and activities.
Both updated documents and wire corrections can be viewed as expensive and extreme measures to fix minor problems; in some cases it’s best to leave the disseminated text as is. Instances like this might include missing punctuation, incorrect grammatical usage, or minor misspellings. While you may be unhappy leaving such things as is, drawing attention to them by issuing new text can sometimes do more harm than good as journalists do not want to see four re-issues of a document containing no new information.
Before twisting yourself into a tailspin of self-doubt, here are a few quick tips to remember when you come across incorrect information in the text of a press release already live on the internet.
- How important is it that the information be corrected or updated? In the day/date mismatch given above, the answer is simply “very important.” A more mundane typo such as the transposition of two words in a sentence (“The company a is” vs. “The company is a”) might only warrant an updated press release or could be left as is; a full wire correction might draw more notice than it really warrants.
- What type of press release announcement was issued, and who is the intended audience? A simple media advisory advising the press of the location of an event with a minor change like a misspelled word is small beans, whereas a company’s year-end financial statement with incorrect numbers is a capital letters BIG DEAL. Photographers checking the information on your company’s media advisory to reach a press event will forgive you the spelling error, whereas financial journalists and shareholders cannot excuse erroneous figures as too much is riding on that data.
- How soon after the embargo time was the error caught and how soon can you decide on a course of action? If your press release has been posted and live for over a month, a full correction is probably not warranted, especially for small nut-and-bolts types of spelling and grammar gaffes. The exception to this being, if such a slip-up might change the meaning of the sentence in such a way that your company finds itself at fault, then acting quickly and decisively is your first priority.