Marketing Execs’ Most Embarrassing Email Mistakes

July 10, 2009

This article is included in these additional categories:

Agency Business | Email | Privacy & Security

Nearly eight in 10 (78%) US advertising and marketing executives confess to having made at least one mistake when sending out email at work, including emailing a message to someone it wasn’t intended for or copying someone on a message they weren’t meant to see, according to a survey by The Creative Group.

When asked to name the worst, most cringe-worthy email error that they or others have made on the job, respondents’ answers ran the gamut – from disclosing an employee’s salary details to the entire company to making insulting comments about the boss – who got accidentally copied on the email.

Among the most embarrassing email moments cited by respondents:

  • Sending confidential employee salary information to the whole firm.
  • Transmitting confidential client information to another client.
  • Sending an internal memo about restroom etiquette to external clients.
  • Sending a copy of an employee’s bank records to other employees.
  • Sending a racy picture to the whole office that was only meant for a few people.
  • Sending a job offer to the wrong candidate.
  • Sending a resume to an internal recipient rather than to its intended recipient at an external, prospective employer.
  • Nasty comments and catty, gossipy emails about supervisors – sent directly to supervisors by mistake.
  • Calling a co-worker an “idiot” and mistakenly copying the entire company.

“E-mail mistakes can be painfully visible and viral,” said Megan Slabinski, executive director of The Creative Group. “Professionals must be especially careful in this economy not to do anything that could cause employers to question their competence or judgment, and that means paying close attention when sending any kind of message, particularly if the information is sensitive.”

The Creative Group recommends that emailers pay close attention to the distribution lists of their missives, double-check recipients before sending, check attachments and email trails, and always keep things professional.

With today’s long lifespan of electronic recordkeeping and email monitoring on the rise, some issues – the firm said – may be better expressed in person.

About the survey: The national survey was developed by The Creative Group and conducted by an independent research firm. It is based on 250 telephone interviews – 125 with advertising executives randomly selected from the nation’s 1,000 largest advertising agencies and 125 with senior marketing executives randomly selected from the nation’s 1,000 largest companies.

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