Execs Describe Their "Uh Oh" E-Mail Moments

July 13, 2009 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Most advertising and marketing professionals have experienced at least one "oh no" moment after they've sent an e-mail, a new survey suggests.

The Creative Group, a Menlo Park, California, staffing service for marketing, advertising, creative and Web professionals, reports its survey found 78% of advertising and marketing execs polled confess they’ve made a serious e-mail miscue. The other 22% of respondents say they haven’t.

Those participating in the survey say their experiences ranged from erroneously sending out an employee’s salary information to the entire company, to recalling a nasty e-mail about the boss that made its way to top management.

“E-mail mistakes can be painfully visible and viral,” said Megan Slabinski, executive director of The Creative Group, in the announcement. “Professionals must be especially careful in this economy not to do anything that could cause employers to question their competence or judgment and that means paying close attention when sending any kind of message, particularly if the information is sensitive.”

The poll is based on 250 telephone interviews — 125 with advertising executives randomly selected from the nation’s 1,000 largest advertising agencies and 125 with senior marketing executives randomly selected from the nation’s 1,000 largest companies.

Survey respondents were asked to describe the worst e-mail mistakes that they or others they know have made. Among the responses:

  • "Someone sent out confidential salary information to the whole firm."
  • "I once sent a job offer to the wrong person."
  • "An employee sent his resume to me by mistake. It was supposed to go to an outside company."
  • "Someone made a nasty comment about a supervisor and it was sent to the supervisor by mistake. It eventually led to dismissal."
  • "A person called another employee an idiot in an e-mail to everyone in the company."
  • "One of our vendors accidentally e-mailed me information about their sales performance, so I gained some inside knowledge about that vendor."
  • "My receptionist sent a very gossipy and catty e-mail about another employee to the wrong person. It was so unprofessional that she was terminated."
  • "We sent an e-mail to a client that was meant for a vendor. It made it difficult when the client had seen our costs."
  • "Confidential information about one client was sent to a different client. It was certainly embarrassing."
  • "Someone crafted a scathing, sarcastic e-mail about a customer and did not mean to hit 'send.' It caused problems."
  • "I once sent an internal memo about restroom etiquette to a prospective client by accident."
  • "Someone sent me a copy of an employee's bank records by mistake."
  • "Someone meant to send a racy picture to a couple of friends but ended up sending it to the entire staff, which caused her much embarrassment."

Source: The Creative Group