By Mikinzie Stuart, PepperDigital

Stop! You may want to think twice before you press the send button.

Whether it’s an e-mail, a pitch, a tweet or a Facebook status, every form of bad electronic correspondence has the chance of being publicly ridiculed. With “outings” becoming more prevalent in both major publications and smaller-scaled blogs, it’s a growing concern for PR pros across the globe.

A more recent example is that of a PR professional who “went off” on a TechCrunch writer because she declined to write about a company he represents. In retaliation, TechCrunch wrote about it and posted the rude e-mail verbatim for the viewing pleasure of over 1 million monthly readers. But it’s not just TechCrunch who’s pointing fingers at bad practices in PR; just take a look at Bad Pitch Blog or read a few tweets from CNET editor Rafe Needleman.

While advancements in technology have drastically changed and improved the way we communicate, allowing for faster and more efficient communication and broader reach, it also means that every PR professional is at risk of being criticized on the web for a misstep. And as we learned from last month’s Kenneth Cole Twitter fiasco, leaving a digital trail can damage your reputation in a big way.

The next time you’re about to press send, you may want to consider these tips first:

  • Consider your mood: Are you upset or angry? If so, save a draft and come back to it later once you’ve cooled down.
  • Consider the reader: Don’t use abbreviations, slang or emoticons in correspondences to people with which you don’t already have a friendly, personal relationship.
  • NEVER WRITE IN ALL CAPS. BESIDES BEING DIFFICULT TO READ ON A COMPUTER SCREEN, IT GIVES THE READER A SENSTAION OF BEING SHOUTED AT AND LEAVES AN UNPROFESSIONAL IMPRESSION.
  • Reread the text for any typos or misspellings. You don’t want a “dynamic shift” to become dynamic horse poop.
  • If you’re unsure about the wording or tone, have a colleague or friend read it over. “Textlation” issues are frequently one of the biggest hurdles of electronic communication and culprit of miscommunication. Don’t let yourself become a victim.
  • If it’s confidential or personal information, it’s probably best to avoid leaving a paper trail and discuss face-to-face or by phone.
  • When you do flub up, respond as quickly as possible and apologize for the mistake. After all, even PR professionals are human.

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