Recently I received an email from a friend of mine, Nicole Cullen. Nicole emailed her database an invitation to attend a workshop she and a number of colleagues were staging in December 2012.

Unfortunately, the email Nicole sent out greeted readers as follows:

Hi First Name
Concerned about this, here’s how Nicole decided to address her inadvertent mistake:

Dear Greg,

My email to you on Wednesday commenced with the words “Hi first name” and then provided information about our Managing Social Media Complaints Workshop on 6 December in Sydney.

Naturally I checked all the links in our flyer before it was sent out but I admit, I overlooked checking the mail merge function. I felt so disappointed about this mistake as, to be honest, names ARE very important to me.

I received some very cute responses from friends and colleagues who will no doubt call me “first name” for some time now, and I also got an email from my old pal Greg Weiss who is a “Personal Brand Enthusiast” at The First Few Seconds. Clearly the first few seconds of his experience in reading my workshop flyer could have been better. We got chatting on the phone (remember that thing?) and I decided I wanted to apologise to you. Because the first few seconds are important, first names are important and social media is all about connecting with real people, not “no names”.

Meanwhile, our Managing Social Media Complaints Workshop is filling up fast so I encourage you to register quickly as we do have a limit on numbers.

We are really looking forward to delivering some leading edge social media complaints handling strategies and I hope to see YOU on the day!

Cheers, Nicole

So, aside from her calling me an ‘old’ pal, (I’ll take that as a long-term friend), Nicole received many comments from people on her mailing list – reinforcing her goodwill, rather than impacting her personal brand and reputation.

4 things we can learn from this:

1. Be Real:
If you ‘stuff up’ then it’s best to fess up and apologise. Although Elton John wrote, “Sorry seems to be the hardest word”, the power of being a human and saying sorry in a technologically driven world is very refreshing.

2. Apologise sincerely:
Nicole did just that. She shared with her audience her disappointment and how the execution did not live up to her standards. She explained what went on and lightened it up with some humour (being called first name; and remember the phone?)

3. Take action within a reasonable time frame:
To preserve the integrity of her own personal brand, Nicole took action within 24 hours of the error. She did not panic. She carefully crafted a response and then sent it, properly personalised, with a catchy subject heading and without her email template.

4. Reinforce the message:
Nicole artfully segued from her apology to reinforcing her original message and did so without being “salesy” in the process.

How good is that?

By doing all the above, Nicole has since shared with me that her apology triggered positive feedback (confirming high levels of trust in her brand), started some conversations about the workshop and that registrations at the workshop are consequently filling up.

Handling a mistake appropriately can enhance your goodwill.

Author's Bio: 

Greg Weiss, Founder of and has almost 30 years experience in helping to improve people’s career prospects. CareerSupport365 is an innovative and cost effective outplacement solution for any business, large or small. With online modules that have been developed by people with the combined experience of over 120 years plus expert career coaches. CareerSupport365 is the innovator in outplacement services.