Last Christmas, I gave you my press release

“Last Christmas (I Gave You My Heart)” is arguably the most obnoxious of all the Christmas songs that somehow ends up on Spotify playlists at doctors’ offices and outdoor malls this time of year. I can’t be the only one who’s noticed it’s a corny breakup song tied to Christmas by the flimsiest of threads.

However, as I listened to this terrible song (original Wham! version) in a department store last week I found one redeeming quality. Yes, the guy complaining is whiny, BUT he is learning from his mistakes.

For those of you blessed enough to not know this song, the lyrics explain (incessantly) that last year he gave someone his heart and the very next day they gave it away. And this year, to save himself from more heartbreak, he’ll give his heart to someone special. And right there we have reflection and a plan for what to do differently next time.

I don’t usually ask people to drudge up all the mistakes they’ve made recently. But I’m going to ask you to do that now. You don’t have to tell them to me. Or anyone if you don’t want to. But pull them up in the privacy of your own head. Think about what went wrong and why. Think about how you can do better next time.

Maybe it’s a great pitch that fell flat because you didn’t do your homework and it wasn’t as customized as it could have been. Maybe it was a typo that got noticed too late. Whatever it is, instead of burying it deep, take it out, examine it, and see what you can do to avoid it next time.

So now it’s my turn. Something that still makes me cringe is the time I was lucky enough to score an interview with a WSJ writer about what she does and doesn’t like in pitches. You think it’s hard to get them to cover your client? Try getting them to talk constructively about PR pitches. We were stuck in the email stage for a while and then finally she gingerly accepted my request to move the conversation to the phone. And then this happened:

  • After reviewing her availability, I sent her a calendar invitation for the phone call. But I did the time zone adjustment backwards and it was outside the window she gave me.
  • Then I didn’t check my email for an abnormally long time, so I didn’t see her reply pointing out the inconsistency, so I inadvertently left her twisting in the wind.

I try so hard to “work smart” and then do something totally avoidable like that. I figured she would move on and schedule over her opening and that I had lost my chance.

Fortunately she accepted my apology, we straightened out the schedule, and had a good chat. She even ended up being a guest speaker for my Inner Circle and reviewing pitches for the members live.

My reflection and change? I now leave almost all scheduling to my amazing assistant, who double-checks everything and never does stuff like that. And the rare times I do it myself, I always triple check the time zones and dates/days.

Whatever your recent mistake was, don’t let it discourage you or cause you shame. Do let it motivate you to make whatever changes are necessary to do better next time.

(Just don’t write a Christmas song where you repeat it like 20x when it doesn’t really have anything to do with Christmas.)

This article was originally published on December 1, 2021

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