Crisis Management Tactics: OOPS! Erroneous Emails

Hit that send button too soon? Here’s some advice…

With the average person firing off dozens, or even hundreds, of emails per day, you can safely assume that someone in your organization is going to slip up eventually.

Whether sending to the wrong recipients, sending too soon, or one of any number of possible mistakes that could be made, an erroneous email can easily create a need for serious crisis management.

Here are some steps you can take to minimize the impact:

1. Be honest

Don’t try to blame the system, the lint in your mouse, or anything else other than yourself. People are quite willing to accept that someone made a mistake; what they aren’t OK with is a flimsy excuse.

2. Evaluate the initial impact

Accidentally send out tomorrow’s newsletter early? First ask yourself, is it a huge deal? Did it contain some lighthearted tips on using Twitter, or did it contain as-of-yet unannounced news of impending layoffs? Many email errors can be corrected with a simple, “we’re sorry, we screwed up” type followup, while others call for a full-blown crisis management team to be assembled ASAP.

3. Monitor the response

Did your apology go over well? Is the story staying among those originally involved, or is it sprouting legs? Just as in most other crisis management scenarios, close monitoring will tell you whether you need to take further action or let things lie.

4. Learn

After everything has calmed down, conduct a lessons-learned session. Are there procedures that could be put in place to prevent the same mistake from happening again? Did a piece of software actually malfunction, and if so is there a fix? Every single crisis holds valuable opportunities for improvement, provided you take the time to study them.

This is another situation where the question isn’t “if,” but “when.” Take these steps to heart, and be prepared to take action when you have an erroneous email crisis of your own.

Erik Bernstein
Social Media Manager

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