Imagine if you launched a presidential campaign only to find out that you had misspelled “America” on most of your marketing material.
Talk about a major content mishap.
Did you know this actually happened to one presidential hopeful? And this is not an uncommon story. Sometimes, it’s easy for politicians, CEO’s, marketers, and companies to convince themselves they don’t need a good editor or content planner. They think they have that simple proofreading step covered.
Unfortunately, they’re often wrong.
When high-profile people make easily preventable content mistakes, the mistakes are well-publicized and quickly spread across the web, which results in embarrassment, loss of credibility, and even a shortage of business for the company, individual, or politician responsible.
10 Content Mishaps that Shocked Their Audience (A.K.A. What NOT to Do in Content Marketing)
Content mistakes come in all shapes and sizes–varying from unfortunate misspellings to blatantly insensitive Twitter marketing. These mistakes can easily be prevented by hiring a good content team made up of skilled editors, content planners, and writers, and companies who choose not to do this are opening themselves up to costly content mishaps.
Read on to learn about the ten of the most shocking content mistakes in recent history:
1) Spelling Errors Set in Stone
The last place many people would expect to find notable spelling errors is the Vietnam Memorial, which is one of the most somber and well-planned settings on earth. Unfortunately, misspellings do exist in the world-famous monument. Roughly 100 of the names carved into the monument’s stone face are misspelled and officials have been working on the task of re-engraving the names to correct them (a cost of nearly $4,000).
2) The Case of the Misspelled Potato
When Dan Quayle was Vice President in 1992, he made a pretty shocking content mistake. While visiting a classroom in New Jersey, a little boy stepped up to the chalkboard at Quayle’s request and spelled “potato.” Although the little boy was spot-on in his spelling, Quayle apparently did not realize this and proudly stepped up to the chalkboard to “correct” the misspelling by placing an “e” on the end of the word.
Quayle then made the boy spell the word again, complete with the misplaced “e.” When the little boy complied (no doubt amazingly confused) Quayle began clapping. News got out and the talk shows of the day descended upon Quayle for his spelling snafu.
3) The Misspelled Commandments (Another Misspell Set in Stone)
In Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, there is a monument at the State Capitol that features the 10 Commandments of the Bible written in stone. Unfortunately, the monument looks like it could have used a good editor. On the stone slab, the word “Sabbath” is misspelled as “Sabbeth” and “maidservant” is spelled “maidseruant.”
The $10,000 monument will need to be re-engraved to fix the mistakes – a costly and difficult endeavor.
4) DiGiorno’s Poor Choice for #WhyIStayed
After Ray Rice assaulted his then-fiancé, Janay Palmer Rice, in an elevator in 2014, the hashtag #WhyIStayed was trending on Twitter. The hashtag was aimed at raising awareness of the challenges victims of domestic violence face and why many of them choose to stay during and after abuse.
DiGiorno pizza got it really wrong, though, when they chose to tweet “#WhyIStayed You had pizza.” Although the tweet was deleted almost immediately and followed up by an apology in which the company stated that it didn’t know what the hashtag meant when posting the offensive tweet, fans were outraged. We have a feeling a good social media content strategist never would’ve let this happen.
5) No Hope for the Galaxy
Earlier this year, US soccer team LA Galaxy lost 2-0 to the Vancouver Whitecaps. To add insult to injury, fans later noticed that the team’s forward, Gyasi Zardes, was sporting a jersey that spelled his last name “Zardez.” Needless to say, it was a tough night for everyone.
6) Epicurious Marketing on the Boston Marathon Bombing
After the horrific Boston Marathon Bombing, which took place on April 15, 2013, the cooking site Epicurious made a pretty large content mistake. The brand took to its Twitter account twice to comment on the tragedy and then include two recipes: one for whole-grain cranberry scones and one for a bowl of “breakfast energy”.
Fans quickly responded, shaming the brand for its insensitivity. The lesson? Never try to profit off of national tragedy. Although this content mistake isn’t in the vein of a misspelling or an embarrassing typo, it goes to show that all of a company’s content needs to be reviewed by a capable content strategy team before being released to the web.
7) Sarah Palin Refudiates Criticism About Her Spelling
In 2010, Sarah Palin took to Twitter to make up a new word, although we think it was a bit more of a misspelling than it was an honest attempt at neologism. The former Governor of Alaska used the word “refudiate” in a Twitter message to her followers.
Of course, many followers were confused about whether or not she had meant “refute” and the Twitter universe quickly responded to the misspelling. Palin went on to explain herself and “refudiate,” for its part, went on to become the 2010 Word of the Year. Here’s her tweet that came later:
"Refudiate," "misunderestimate," "wee-wee'd up." English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!
— Sarah Palin (@SarahPalinUSA) July 18, 2010
8) Rand Paul’s Educational Opportunity Gone Wrong
When Senator Rand Paul launched his presidential campaign website earlier this year, he expected great feedback. What he got, though, was plenty of jeers from voters who noticed that the site’s “education” page featured a blatant misspelling. The site’s page misspelled “education” as “eductation” and visitors took notice:
Although the typo was quickly fixed, a good deal of damage had been done. It’s safe to say that, when voters assume a presidential candidate can’t spell or is not taking the time to make sure the people on his staff can, they quickly lose faith and respect for the campaign itself.
9) The Great Grammy Gaffe of 2014
During the 2014 Grammy Awards, the writers of the show chose to include a heartfelt tribute to the stars that had passed away that year, including late actor Cory Monteith. Unfortunately, the writers in charge of the memorial video misspelled the actor’s name as “Montieth.” Stars close to Monteith as well as his fans were outraged and the Grammy producers heard suffered their wrath via angry Twitter and Facebook posts.
10) Mitt Romney Misspells “America”
Within high-profile political campaigns, spelling should be a #1 priority – especially when it comes to spelling the name of the country you are seeking to lead. Unfortunately, presidential hopeful Mitt Romney missed the bar when his team created a logo that claimed his campaign was striving for “A Better America.” Everything would have been well and good except for one small thing: America was misspelled.
Why Everybody Needs a Good Content Team
Put simply: a good content team has the potential to save you from a lot of embarrassment and some very public strife. Nobody is perfect and misspellings and occasional insensitivity happen, but when a company hires a good content solutions team, the likelihood of content mishaps decreases immediately.
Content comes in many forms and it’s fair to argue that everything a company or individual puts out to followers is content. This includes Twitter posts, Facebook interactions, blogs, articles and even transcripts of speeches. If everything is content, then, it stands to reason that everything a company or individual does with that content is content marketing.
Successful companies know that content marketing is an important business and they do everything they can to improve their content marketing strategy. By taking great care with every piece of content they create, these successful companies give their readers or supporters great value while also avoiding embarrassing content mishaps.
We live in a very connected world. When individuals or businesses make an easily preventable content mistake today, it spreads around the web like wildfire and that bad publicity has the very real potential of making a company seem less credible, less authoritative or less intelligent.
Fortunately, content mishaps are easy to avoid. By hiring a qualified content solutions teams, companies and individuals can afford themselves the luxury of having extra eyes on their content and making sure “America” isn’t spelled wrong, after all.
In addition to the obvious proofreading benefits offered, a content strategy team can also plan, distribute, and write your content, which serves to ensure it is consistent, authoritative, interesting, and well-suited to your target audience.
Content mishaps can be messy and nobody wants to be the guy that misspelled “potato”. That said, be a smart marketer and hire a high-quality content team to handle your content—and make sure nothing that could harm your reputation or make you a laughing-stock gets out.