Reuters Newsblogs tells the “Tru story” of a press release from TextTrust, a web site spell checking company. The release listed the ten most commonly misspelled words on websites (e.g., “independant” instead of the correct “independent”).
The release would no doubt have died a quick death had it not contained… you guessed it, a spelling error! The original referred to “we pages” rather than the intended “web pages”. The firm issued a corrected release a few hours later.
We’ll probably never know if this was a stupid mistake or a PR stunt. The latter is certainly possible if the firm was hoping the release would o get picked up as an “odd news” listing or catch the interest of bloggers (like this one). Personally, I think it was an unintentional and boneheaded error, as it exposes the problems any spell check program has when a correctly spelled word is incorrectly substituted for the intended word.
For an intentional PR stunt, it would have been far more appropriate to misspell a word in the first release, and then with the correction issue a statement like, “When we posted the release to our website our software indicated an error. To our horror, we found that…” This approach would have demonstrated the value of the spell check software and shown that anyone, even spelling experts, needs an automated backup system. As it happened, they not only look dumb but also exposed a limitation of their product.