If You Screw Up, Don’t Quibble

Posted in News
Sun, May 18 - 3:31 pm EDT | 6 years ago by
Comments: 6
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A yearbook publisher screwed up in a major way when an employee pasted students’ heads on other bodies.

Lifetouch National School Studios apologized and offered to re-do the publication prep and pay for reprinting the high school yearbook.

Then, instead of shutting up, they went on to explain  that the high school involved made an “unusual and definitely very particular” photo editing request.

The “unusual” request? Resize the photos so everyone’s head is the same size and position them vertically so eye level is the same. Maybe not typical, but not too surprising, if you know anything about graphic design.

The problem is, even when the company spokesperson says, “that’s not to suggest what happened here is acceptable,” it sounds like they’re suggesting the customer was partly to blame for their mistake.

Official Apology Protocol

  • Admit you’re at fault.
  • Apologize.
  • Fix the problem if you can.
  • Shut up, already!

Every time someone adds “but” to the end of an apology, they indicate they’re not sincere, or they at least open the door to that possibility.

Unless that’s what you’re trying to accomplish, shut up.

The CNN story. Mahalo summary. An unsatisfied customer.

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  • http://www.hybridconsultinggroup.blogspot.com/ Angela Solomon

    This is not only great PR advice, but a good rule of thumb for everyday life. I can’t stand it when someone tries to lessen there wrongdoings with “buts,” because oftentimes, it just aggravates the situation even more. Stop while you are ahead, and the problem will, usually, go away much faster.

  • http://lagesse.org Rob La Gesse

    “I love you, but”.

    “I am pregnant, but”.

    “We are winning in Iraq, but”.

    “We usually used protection, but”.

    “I have no problem with black people, but”.

    “I don’t cheat on my taxes, but”.

    There are VERY few instances where “but” makes sense. The “but” should be before upfront – not an afterthought. If it is ever used at all.


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  • http://www.pitbullsandlabradors.blogspot.com Lally

    Ohhh .. excellent advice. Your outline for an appropriate apology is an excellent outline for exactly 50 percent of crisis comm. plans.

    Rob: Try these:

    This may sound sexist, but …

    This may sound racist, but …

    This may sound rude, but …

    I may sound like a jerk, but by acknowledging that potentiality I hereby immunize myself from an repercussion or criticism.

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  • http://www.commonsensepr.com Eric Eggertson

    Sorry I didn’t respond to these comments when they were first posted. No excuse.

    Thanks for the great comments. I’d urge you to click on the link to My Five Worst Professional Mistakes. Great reading!