Why Rolling Stone’s Editorial Blunder is Actually A Great PR Opportunity

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Our worst nightmare as PR pros, spokespeople, or brand ambassadors is when great press opportunities are ruined by careless errors. Whether it’s a misquote on a press release, or an inappropriate tweet, we naturally get uncomfortable when plans go awry causing us to miss the chance at making a good impression. However, sometimes the biggest bloopers lead to a higher volume of PR activity than those that are perfectly executed. We like to call those happy accidents.

For example, you may have heard about actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus posing in her birthday suit on the recent cover of Rolling Stone to promote her TV comedy (Veep).  For extra Veep branding, her bare back was splashed with a fake tattoo containing verbiage from the US Constitution.

The photo was intended to draw attention to her political comedy on HBO, but instead drew attention to a minor detail on the tattoo: a signature by John Hancock on her lower left hip.  No doubt, John Hancock would be proud, except that he didn’t sign the Constitution (Hancock signed the Declaration of Independence)

Many Rolling Stone readers took to social media to comment on the Seinfield starlet’s bare-it-all photograph (for several reasons) but, history buffs? They were out to correct the John Hancock signature gaffe.  Over the past few days, media has been chattering about this historical oversight, and asking if the misplaced signature was intentional or if Rolling Stone editors need a seat in a 9th grade history class.

Sometimes what sticks in PR can’t be planned; sometimes it’s the unplanned that receives the most attention.  To keep the PR machine greased, Julia Louis-Dreyfus has played into the error’s momentum by posting a #TBT picture and noting  the John Hancock signature in her baby photo.

JLD_tbt
The back and forth criticizing the magazine has mostly been done in good fun, and as PR pros, we’re happy to see a mistake made by Rolling Stone turn into a teachable and laughable moment. Hey, looks like Julia Louis-Dreyfus in the buff turned unsuspecting history buffs into accidental publicists…who knew historians were such great viral marketers?

What about you? Do you find any particular public blunders to be hilarious? If so tell us @ebben_zall

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