Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Always Check your Facts - Journalist Will!

Well, they might! But the point is if you are issuing anything into the public domain, from a mere blog post to a press release or business report, always check it. Double check it and ask someone who has not written it to check it too.

At the risk of heaving an enourmous boulder through the greenhouse of irony I am tackling this subject after a story from msnbc was feed into my eclectic collection of RSS feeds in Outlook. They do a 'weird news' column which largely focuses on the foibles of Americans.

The finance group Standard & Poor's (not exactly an inspirational for a financial services company!) analysed data for US News & World's inaugural report on America's Top 100 Schools... and erroneously placed a Vermont High School as the fifth best public high school in America. It was actually somewhere in the top 500 and it took the school itself to point out the error after publication of the report.

So red faces all around for the schoolboy maths error that has surely damaged Standard & Poor's reputation. However, a quick look at their website finds nothing by way of explanation or apology.

What lessons are there here? Obviously check your work lest you want to wear the eggs of shame - but also, if you do get it wrong, be open, honest and forward in correcting it and making every effort to resolve the problem. The quicker you do this, the less likely the public mistake is to become a press story.

Of course, sometimes mistakes are the perfect way to get publicity... but that is another story entirely!

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