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BT Race To Infinity in another email calamity
Friday 15 October 2010 11:11:31 by Andrew Ferguson

We have all faced the situation of clicking send on an e-mail, and then realising we had made an error. Last night, the team behind the BT Race to Infinity campaign took this to a new level by pasting the entire list of people who had submitted entries into the CC field on an e-mail, exposing the address list of prospective campaigners to over 900 of their peers. The purpose of the email was to direct campaigners to the link

The email went out at 17:57 on Thursday 14 October, with the first people talking out it on our forums an hour later. The sender tried to 'recall' the message however by then, some of its recipients had already 'replied to all' pointing the mistake. 

 We received a statement from Porter Novelli, the firm responsible for handling that part of the campaign at 22:15, letting us know that they had released an online statement and were contacting those affected to apologise.

As a result of a mistake by one of our staff, email addresses for a number of people who had signed up to support BT’s Race to Infinity campaign were accidentally displayed in a communication sent at 17:57 on 14th October. Porter Novelli would like to sincerely apologise to all of the people affected.

The error was immediately identified and we have since been working with BT to ensure that every step is taken to deal with the situation. The original email communication has been recalled and apologies issued to all of those affected. We are reviewing the steps taken by our staff that led to this error and will be amending our procedures to ensure that it does not happen again.

Sally Ward, Partner and Managing Director, UK

This campaign is certainly getting far from a smooth ride; only a week before a test email was sent out to those who had registered interest for their area.


Posted by ElBobbo over 7 years ago
How exactly do you "recall" an email?
Posted by GMAN99 over 7 years ago
In MS exchange you can recall it in to prevent it from going any further, but its already left on its way to the wide world there's nothing you can do.
Posted by mhc over 7 years ago
Why do these marketing companies not use an email client that will stop this type of problem.

My team had access to versions of Outlook and Lotus Notes which only had a BCC field, To and CC were hidden and it was almost impossible to enter a value in those.

All marketing comms always went from a specific "User" ( - or similar) and the PCs used to send only had the modified versions.
Posted by mabibby over 7 years ago

It was quite funny last night!

I maybe committed a bit of spamming replying to the whole CC list but oh well... :)

Watching Porter Novelli trying to Recall the message an hour or so later was quite entertaining.

I do feel sorry for the poor sods who had their telephone number in the prefix of the email address.
Posted by Btcc22 over 7 years ago
"The original email communication has been recalled"

Must have been a pretty big task. ;)
Posted by b4dger over 7 years ago
The email from Porter Novelli (never heard of them before - nice PR job!) is asking for lots of personal contact details etc. if I want to help with my local campaign. After what's happened I have no trust in them. I wonder how many people will go on to provide them with more details?

I'm not sure it's right that after giving my email to BT a third-party company gets in touch without explaining their relationship with BT! This is a failure of both BT and Porter Novelli.
Posted by b4dger over 7 years ago
Just to reinforce my lack of trust with Porter Novelli when it comes to managing IT/Data I notice that they've also messed up their own website contact page:
The '' domain is listed as their official UK address but it seems they only went to the trouble of getting a Google maps API for their .com site.
Only a 'school boy' error but it shows me that no one at Porter Novelli seems to be checking things! It will be interesting to see if they get round to fixing it...
Posted by martincampbell over 7 years ago
Maybe they should read their own advice as posted by @pniq on Twitter.
How do you stop issues spiralling out of control over the internet? PN talks about its new offering #pnid
Oh no, the link's broken. I'll just go and check their web site.
Oh no, that's broken too. I am now actually rolling on the floor laughing at their incompetence.
Posted by jrawle over 7 years ago
Is this one for the Information Commissioner? I think e-mail addresses should be protected like any other personal information.

I often can't believe the incompetence of people involved on online publicity, but then people who understand technology don't go into PR. The fact they think they can "recall" an e-mail just shows the problem of the mentality that IT training = MS training.
Posted by b4dger over 7 years ago
@martincampbell :¬) Looks like they 'half' moved to Wordpress. Their 'crisis' page is now "Early Warning Monitoring to track digital chatter..." and other great quotes! Their 'Real-Time Reputation offering' seems slow at kicking in ;¬)
Posted by Sandgrounder over 7 years ago
The problem with heading for infinity (racing or otherwise)is that, by definition, you can never get there.

It certainly feels so where I live.
Posted by nmg196 over 7 years ago
Rather worrying that there are people working in technology who don't yet know how to use email.
Posted by GMAN99 over 7 years ago
Porter Novelli are in public relations they aren't a tech company
Posted by c_j_ over 7 years ago
"Porter Novelli are in public relations they aren't a tech company"

Shouldn't that be "were" not "are"?

On similar lines to mhc's re custom email client: many years ago when I worked at a company whose IT department had a clue, they set up some rule or other such that the more addressees an email had, the more hoops you had to jump through to send it. Doesn't seem unreasonable to me.

Wrt recalling a non-Exchange mail: how clueless does one have to be to get a job in Internet PR? [It only works in Exchange if you're on the same server as the recipient(s) and it's Wednesday]
Posted by devsen over 7 years ago
If I was BT I would this firm forthwith...BT is the custodian of most (if nearly everybody) people in the UK...the stupidity of this so called Race to Infinity is infantile and a tech co should be more responsible about how it names its products...the speed of broadband is always going to be limited by the copper wires 2 our homes...are they replacing all the cw?
Posted by devsen over 7 years ago
Should have read "...sack this firm" :-)
Posted by devsen over 7 years ago
BTW the race to infinity voting web site does not seem to be working anyway
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