A dozen Kent State University public relations graduate students welcomed me yesterday to class. And I relayed things I wish someone had told me about life in the working world before I joined its ranks.

One of those things? That failure is not only okay, it’s essential. Jessica Scheve blogged about what she took away from the session.

Here’s my take on failures: Depending on how well you mop them up, some mistakes can turn into valuable life-long lessons.

Exhibit A, I confessed to the class led by Gene Sasso, was a story I wrote almost 20 years ago, drawn from a speech delivered by an important regulator in Washington, D.C.

The remarks were news only because of his prominence. I knew that. And the regulator wasn’t new to me. I had covered his speeches before. Not sure what seeded my complacency. But the blooper was a doozy: I attributed this newsmaker’s comments to a prominent colleague at the same agency whose last name began with the same consonant.

Even now, I don’t know how it happened. What I learned that day, however, was to always care about the details. Triple check the names. Proofread before sending — then proof again. Eyeball the grand total. Verify the date.

Because when you get it right, some people will notice, but when you get it wrong, everyone will.

Big picture impact happens only if the details are just so.