How Vox turned an oops into an ok

If you’re anything like me, you’ve woken up in middle of the night (at least once) to a nightmare that involves sending out your publication’s newsletter with either A. a typo, B. the wrong link, or the worst of all, C. incomplete. These nightmares are much like the waitress nightmares I’ve been having since my first job at 16. You know, the ones where you’re the only server in the restaurant, a family reunion comes in, and your pen runs out of ink? #Anxiety.

Recently, Vox lived that nightmare. Except this one was a reality.

One afternoon, I saw an email pop up on my phone from Vox (I’m subscribed to their daily newsletter, Vox Sentences). This specific one caught my eye. The subject line read “TKTK.” In the editorial world, this means “put real words here,” or more formally, “to come.” Journalism is weird. I’ll admit, I was intrigued. I thought, “could this be a brilliant marketing stunt to get me to open this newsletter?” Very similar to the recent, and puzzling, IHOB debacle. So, I clicked.

But to my disappointment (and to the Vox staff’s, I’m sure), it was indeed a mistake, a human error, a “whoopsies.” My stomach dropped. I knew this wasn’t my mess up, but what if it had been? Would I be running down the street with my hair on fire? Hiding under my desk? Or more likely, vomiting in the bathroom? Sure, I’ve sent out a newsletter with a typo or two, but this newsletter wasn’t even close to be finished. The entire thing was riddled with TK, TK, TK.

 

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To the tune of Hannah Montana, everyone makes mistakes. Even Vox. We’re all human. But how you move forward, how you acknowledge your mistake, is often more defining than the mistake in the first place. (There are too many examples to reference here … i.e. every celebrity and politician that learned this lesson the hard way.)

I was glued to my inbox for the rest of the day, waiting for the obligatory “we’re sorry” email from Vox. I was interested to see how they were going to handle the error. I also couldn’t help but picture the conversations happening in the office that afternoon, and of course, the many curse words that we’re used that day.

It came the following day as an addendum to their daily newsletter. It was casual, cheeky, and human.

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“Oops! Due to a technical glitch, we accidently sent two versions of Vox Sentences last night. Our apologies, and thanks for reading”

“And now for tonight’s TK-free email.”

They didn’t make it a bigger deal than it was, it was funny even, and it reminded me that there was a real person on the other end of this newsletter. In a way, it made me feel more connected to them. I’m not saying mistakes like this are necessarily good for your brand, but showing a bit of a human-touch can make your brand more approachable, leaving people feeling connected and invested.

So, remember. The next time you’re sending an email newsletter be sure to check and double check again. And when that fails you, have a good attitude and a sense of humor. If your readers are loyal, they likely won’t hold it against you.