The $20 billion dollar press release

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The power of the press has never been in question, and it can be tough to convince overworked journalists that ‘your’ press release is the one they should move to the top of the pile.

Unfortunately, global internet giant, Google, had no such problems last week, when an incomplete financial release revealing its advertising revenues was somehow distributed ahead of schedule, leading to $20 billion being wiped off the value of the business.

The document was clearly incomplete, and even included a space for a comment from Chief Executive Larry Page – who would normally put the best spin on the figures and give them a push into the media and stock market.

In this instance though, he had no chance. After the value of stock dropped by nine per cent, trading in the company’s shares was temporarily suspended.

This is the business which has delivered everyday technical innovations such as Google Maps and Google Streetview, and which has enabled the world to search the internet faster and more easily than ever before. Unfortunately, on this occasion the wheels came off it’s well oiled PR machine and the results have been catastrophic.

It’s not clear who pressed send at this stage, but you can bet your bottom dollar someone will soon be collecting their coat, and can probably look forward to a lifetime of connection problems every time they try to get online.

What this all goes to show is that, no matter what size your business and how many systems you have in place mistakes can happen and it is therefore vital to have contingency plans ready and to respond quickly

Google’s communications team did quickly respond to minimise the damage I would also imagine there’s an internal memo being circulating politely encouraging all staff and suppliers to check their emails before pressing send.