Bad Judgment Creates Twitter Crises

In the last month we’ve seen two really high profile mistweets. In fact, they occurred one right after the other in the same week. ┬áIn both cases, the tweets were apparently meant to be sent from personal accounts, but instead were sent from the corporate accounts.

In case you missed it, the first was from KitchenAidUSA. It was tweeted the night of the first presidential debate.


The second was from StubHub (pardon the language). You can read more about this situation here.


Of course KitchenAidUSA and StubHub aren’t the first corporate accounts to have this happen (remember Chrysler?). What really stood out to me about both these tweets was this:

If you’re a company that’s hired someone who would tweet EITHER of these tweets (even on a personal account), you’ve made a bad hiring decision. Both of these twitterers used unbelievably terrible judgment. These are not the kind of tweets that should be sent out ever on a social network. Ever. Much less by someone who “does” social media for a living. The first error in judgment was KitchenAid and StubHub not taking their respective social media seriously and ensuring the people in place to manage corporate channels had the skills, sense of strategy and maturity to do so.

The second error in judgment was, of course, on the part of the individuals managing those accounts.

I’ve mistweeted from client accounts before, it’s pretty easy to do (and pretty easy to avoid). In each case for me, the tweet was not relevant to that client’s audience or the kind of content typically shared on that platform. But they were not offensive. Guess why. Because I do not tweet offensive things.

The mistweet issue is certainly one that, if you’re helping manage a brand account, you have to pay attention to. But I think the bigger issue in the KitchenAidUSA and the StubHub case was that the individuals responsible for those accounts showed a complete lack of judgment and shouldn’t have been in a position of responsibility.

No, I’m not suggesting that you have to tweet like you’re a corporate brand, but everything you tweet is part of your personal brand. And that should be just as important to you as if you were tweeting on behalf of a client or an employer. It’s through your personal brand that you can demonstrate your expertise, your professionalism and your good judgment. And it’s because you bring expertise, professionalism and good judgment that you’ll be a valuable employee. One that doesn’t tweet something that results in your boss having to apologize to the President of the United States of America.

As usual, a Chipism sums it up… In an interview last week, Oregon Ducks Football Coach Chip Kelly said this about Twitter (after the Washington State coach banned his players from using it).

What do you think? How do you think about your own presence on social media and how does that relate to managing a company or client account? I’d love to hear your experience.

What Does Professionalism Mean?

iStock_000008656215XSmall (1)The PR major in the SOJC is a professionally-focused one. Most students who go into PR understand the importance of perceptions. Or at least they should. And, naturally, our students are concerned with professionalism.

Lately, however, I’m beginning to think some are too concerned. Or their emphasis is misplaced. I’m not sure which. But I think it’s worth exploring.

Maybe we’ll start with what I think professionalism is not:

  • About (just) what you’re wearing. Your appearance is important, don’t get me wrong. It affects that way you feel about yourself and certainly influences first impressions, but style without substance quickly fades.
  • Rigid or doctrinaire. I hear students admonish each other for not being professional or gossip behind someone’s back about some terrible unprofessional misdeed (first of all, judge not, lest ye be judged…). It’s as if professionalism is the new religion for students.
  • Lack of personalization. Where are YOU in this battle for superior professionalism? Scrubbing your digital footprint or even your interpersonal interactions clean from anything that smacks of (God, forbid!) being a 20-something is boring. You’re not a hermetically-sealed-stepford-account-executive-pre-professional just waiting for your assignment. For crying out loud… BE YOURSELF.

Ultimately, professionalism is about the work, it’s about the way you interact with your peers and colleagues. It’s about being gracious and empathetic. What professionalism is:

  • Being accountable. Doing what you say you’ll do, having open lines of communication, telling your supervisor or client that you don’t understand or you’re unclear or you’re in over your head. All of that is part of being accountable. I often see students try to “fake it” and not acknowledge their limitations.
  • Putting the work first. Professionalism is about your professional work. That comes first… before your personal brand. You won’t have a very solid “brand,” by the way, if you can’t do good work.
  • Focused on building relationships by celebrating others successes, having empathy. Being a good person, someone who people enjoy working with is also part of the equation. Professionalism means celebrating your team and giving credit where credit is due. It also means having empathy – not for just clients and colleagues, but any “stakeholder.” Relationships are paramount and the ability to build and maintain strong ones takes a real professional.

What do you think professionalism means?

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