The New York Times Email Mistake: Can It Happen To You?

By now you probably know about the New York Times’ little email error on Wednesday, December 27. But if you don’t, here’s the nutshell: The Times sent a ‘Cancellation’ email to 8.6 million people, presumably every single one of their online email subscribers. The email was meant only for those who actually subscribe to the paper’s home delivery service.

First the Times claimed it was spam, then blamed their email service provider Epsilon, and finally fessed up; The Times did it themselves.

As I’m sure we’re all wondering: How exactly did it happen? And how can you avoid it? Only people at the Times know for sure, but it’s possible, in fact easy, to guess. In fact, it’s a worthwhile exercise, because it may help you to avoid copying their mistake.

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Deconstructing the #McDStories blunder: What could they have done?

mcdonalds #mcdstories social media failYou know how a lot of teary downer movies come out in January, in an effort to capture the mantle of “Best Movie of the Year” before anyone else? On January 18, it seems the McDonalds chain used that approach in their attempt to win the award for “Biggest Social Media Blunder of 2012″ with the #McDStories hashtag.

Why do social media marketing ideas sometimes fail so grotesquely? Sometimes the idea is truly idiotic, or malformed, or naive. #McDStories is different. It actually seemed like a good idea for a well-known brand like McDonalds, which trades on convenience, cost, speed and a chipper all-American wholesomeness. The problem is that McDonalds is well-known to different people for different reasons.

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