Made a Mistake at Work? Here’s how to #Handleit

Whether you’re a PR newbie or a long-time supervisor, you’re bound to make a mistake on the job – and that’s okay. In fact, mistakes help you grow and prepare you for all sorts of work situations. The good news?  Chances are slim you’ll make the same mistake twice. While everyone (and I mean everyone!) makes mistakes, few do so gracefully. Whether it’s a small slip up like forgetting to attach a file or as big as miscalculating an event budget, here are six proven ways to bounce back from any PR blunder.

Trouble-shoot a solution (before you bring it up)

You can’t undo a mistake – but you can create a killer solution. After recognizing your screw up, immediately begin brainstorming the solution. That way, when you go to your manager, you’ll already have a viable resolution. It’s okay to make mistakes, as long as you learn from them. Evaluate what you did wrong and fix the habit moving forward. Were you distracted? Handling too many tasks at once? That’s fine – but don’t do it again. While yes, managers appreciate your heads up and problem solving, they’ll expect you to learn from your errors. If you make the same blunder over and over, expect a different post-mistake conversation.

Take responsibility, quickly

If you catch your mistake before your supervisor and are unable to rectify it quickly and quietly, fess up as soon as possible. Being willing to admit there is a problem and enlist support on next steps shows your maturity; taking responsibility proves you’re a trustworthy colleague. Additionally, admitting your mistake puts you one step closer to fixing it – before the client or media find out. Once you’ve fessed up, you and your supervisor can work on a solution together, whether it’s notifying the client, fixing a press release or rescinding information. Being upfront from the get-go will show professionalism and prove the agency made the right choice in hiring you.

Apologize if you need to – but don’t overdo it

If you need to apologize for your blunder, do it simply and quickly. Over apologizing and agonizing for days won’t fix the issue – instead, it will make you look incompetent and as though you care more about what this says about you than in solving the problem and moving past the issue. A quick email to notify your team member or client that you recognize the mistake and are working to fix it ASAP will suffice. Don’t send a lengthy novel of excuses – keep it short, sweet, and to the point. Mistakes happen; good managers recognize that. They’ve undoubtedly been there and will appreciate the apology.


Go easy on yourself

You’re certainly not the only one who’s screwed up in the workplace – and I promise, you won’t be the last. We’re all human; mistakes are part of our DNA, and trust me, you (like everyone around you) will be making mistakes for the rest of your life. It’s entirely normal, and the best thing you can do is recover from your mistakes gracefully and learn from them moving forward.

You can’t undo a mistake – but you can create a killer solution.

Innovation requires risks – take them

While we all hate making them, mistakes both small and large – are inevitable. I’m not condoning you go out and mess up every project, but think of it this way: When you’re deathly afraid of slip ups, you’re actually hindering your work and, ultimately, the client. All that fear of messing up could in fact leave you wide open for exactly that to happen, so trust yourself.

In today’s PR landscape, we need fresh thinking and new ideas to help our clients stand out. And innovation requires courage. It takes knowing you may fail and you may mess up – but you may be wildly successful. Calculated risks are integral to public relations, and as long as you raise those red flags early – and craft quick solutions – you’ll be an innovative, invaluable asset to your team.

Michele Litzky

Michele Litzky

Michele Litzky is a seasoned generalist and strategist who has driven top-notch PR results for a wide array of clients – from small start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. She founded award-winning boutique lifestyle and family entertainment PR firm Litzky Public Relations in 1988 with just one client, Matchbox Toys. Today, she’s grown the Hoboken-based agency to nearly 25 employees with a full client roster, ranging in categories from toys and baby gear to lifestyle brands and social good campaigns. The agency’s primary objective -- bringing clients strategically into the spotlight – is accomplished through traditional and digital marketing and publicity initiatives that reach media, influencers and strategic partners. While her agency has experienced exciting growth, so has her family. Her three adult nieces, Rachel, Alison and Samantha, prepared her well for the newest jewels in her crown, her grandchildren, Emma, Jack and Henry. To connect with Michele, follow LPR on Instagram (@litzkypr) and Facebook, or visit