Fred Vogelstein who writes for Wired has posted about his initial glee about being mistakenly emailed a briefing document from Microsoft.
The briefing document was all about Fred and the story about Channel 9 and 10 that Microsoft wanted to convey to Wired through Fred.
Of course PR companies brief their interviewees. Otherwise the wrong message can escape, can't it?
Yet as Fred said it felt "downright peculiar" to read assessments of him and the sheer number of people involved in getting the story right to him.
You can read the full 13 page Microsoft briefing document to get a taste of how Microsoft's PR machine works.
From my own experience this may be not that rare. I once had an email sent to me that contained just two lines answering a straightforward question I'd asked. But below the answer the full email revealed that it had gone through several people's email in boxes and two executives had made long comments on internal company arguments relating to the question I'd asked. The person who sent the mail had not thought to delete stuff I shouldn't have seen.
And I've had other less contentious emails that were simply forwarded without editing.
This mistake is not limited to those of us who "do PR". It's just that PR by it's very nature is highly visible, both to the client and to the journalists. So if we make a mistake of this sort we must be prepared to be shot down in flames by both client and journalist.