The Scoop: Lyft’s typo causes stock chaos

Plus: AI can’t hold patents, Cybertruck owners are already reporting rust on vehicles.

As a PR professional, one of the first things you learn to do is ensure that your copy is clean and free of any mistakes. Based on what just happened with Lyft, some individuals might need a refresher on that concept.

According to The Wall Street Journal, a press release stated that Lyft’s profits were projected to rise 500 basis points, or 5%, in 2024. The problem? The projection was only for a 50 basis point rise — someone accidentally added a zero, it seems.

The fallout was immediate. Lyft’s stock rose around 60% in the aftermath of the erroneous announcement, long before analysts and buyers had an opportunity to critically look at the numbers and what they meant. Even in after-hours trading and after some correction back to the mean, Lyft’s stock was still up 16% when the WSJ published its story.

A Lyft spokesperson chalked the issue up to a “clerical error”.

Quite the clerical error indeed.

Why it matters: Beyond the basics that accidentally adding a zero caused the company’s stock to go crazy, the PR implications of this mistake run pretty deep. It’s an embarrassing mistake for Lyft that could have been caught with even the simplest of line edits.

When you’re the outward-facing messaging arm of an organization (or the agency that handles those duties), you need airtight copy and an ironclad review process to ensure that mistakes of this magnitude simply don’t happen. People make mistakes, sure. There’s no denying that. However, having a review framework so that the impacts of human error don’t cascade down and impact the entire company in the public forum is imperative. Maybe with one more copy edit, someone would have caught the error and we wouldn’t be discussing this right now.

It’s much easier to do preventative reputation management than to clean up the mess left after the fact. Give that press release another look.

Editor’s Top Picks:

  • The AI revolution continues to press on, but human beings can take solace in one thing — AI isn’t coming for their patents. According to a report from The Verge, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office stated that AI can help inventors in the ideation process, but it can’t be named an inventor on patent paperwork. In a world in which the line between AI creation and human creation is becoming increasingly blurred, this is notable. AI can help PR pros ideate and craft their messages, but it should be viewed as a helper, not a replacement. This ruling helps reinforce that idea.
  • It’s been made fun of for looking boxy and aesthetically displeasing and for the long delays that plagued its production. But unfortunately for some who waited for their Tesla Cybertrucks, the issues aren’t ending. According to a report by Futurism, some Cybertruck customers are reporting that their metallic EVs are showing signs of rust already. “Just picked up my Cybertruck today,” a customer wrote, according to the Futurism report. “The advisor specifically mentioned the cybertrucks develop orange rust marks in the rain and that required the vehicle to be buffed out.” When people are paying premium prices, they should get a premium product, not a rusty shell of a car. While Tesla might remedy these issues and make them right in the long run, it’s yet another PR speedbump for the Cybertruck.
  • Wendy’s is in the news for a new item on the menu — and it’s one made by another chain. Wendy’s revealed that it’s partnering up with shopping mall staple Cinnabon to add a sweet treat to the list of offerings starting later this month. The cinnamon roll-like baked good is Cinnabon’s latest collaboration with an outside fast food chain, on top of a past collaboration with Pizza Hut and a current one with Subway. These partnerships enable Cinnabon to expand its product presence and increase awareness away from Cinnabon locations. Sometimes when looking to create some waves, a partnership that can combine two (or overlapping) customer bases is just the thing that’s needed to create buzz and increase sales. These don’t just have to be in the dining industry either — partnerships can also unlock creative angles for publicity in many fields. For the record, the writer of this piece will give this new food item a try. For science.

Sean Devlin is an editor at Ragan Communications. In his spare time he enjoys Philly sports, a good pint and ’90s trivia night.


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