Twitter and PR are now, in my view, inseparable. Preparing material on Crisis Comms for a major international organisation in the last week, I was struck by how my thoughts turned immediately to social media, and in particular, Twitter.
If you are in the public eye and something goes wrong, or you are criticised by a person or organisation that matters, our advice at The Media Coach is that the first thing you should do is assign someone to monitor Twitter.
Twitter and PR: In a crisis it must be monitored
Twitter has many faults but it is searchable and it will pretty instantly give you a range of views that tell you how the public is reacting, and also how other organisations and players are reacting. This picture will start to emerge in a couple of hours or in some cases minutes.
Equally important, it will be the first port of call for the mainstream media; journalists follow Twitter the way they used to follow the news agency wires. I haven’t done an audit but Twitter seems to be mentioned in almost every news bulletin these days. For journalists there is no need to ring someone up to get a comment on an interesting development, just look on Twitter.
Of course, if you have a good Crisis Comms strategy, you will also be using Twitter and other social media to put your point of view across. But the idea that you would not consider checking Twitter before putting out your first statement is now frankly crazy.
Twitter and PR: Donald Trump continues to astound
And while on the subject, I cannot but mention President-elect Donald Trump. He did once say he would give up his Twitter account when he moved into the White House. We shall see. But meanwhile he continues to use it to rage at, provoke, criticise and some would say bully whoever he happens to be annoyed with today.
The Tweets pouring scorn on North Korea’s nuclear ability are such a departure from all diplomatic norms that they are astonishing, but I find Trump’s Twitter criticism of the US motor industry much more fascinating.
According to two stories in Forbes and Fortune magazines (among others), Trump’s ‘industrial policy by Tweet’ has already saved jobs in the US from going over the border to Mexico. The idea is that ‘naming and shaming’ CEOs in 140 characters or less persuades them to reverse decisions to invest in Mexico and instead keep US jobs that would otherwise be at risk. Well maybe. I am no fan of Trump but I do find this new use of Twitter absolutely fascinating, if a little scary.
Twitter is now part of the mainstream. It is how we tell the world anything we want to get out there, and how we understand what other people are thinking about … well, anything at all. But it is not all good news. Trolling is widespread and for some, highly damaging. Worse, extreme political groups propagating hatred do effective and uncensored advertising on Twitter.
Twitter and PR: It is not all good
There have been a couple of articles in the last week or so showing former aficionados falling out of love with Twitter.
Lindy West – an American feminist writer – wrote a piece for the Guardian entitled “I’ve left Twitter. It is unusable for anyone but trolls, robots and dictators.” And a response in Politico from former Hillary Clinton Foreign Policy wonk Emily Parker explained why she thinks Twitter cannot be fixed because it is simply reflecting human nature with all its flaws.
Meanwhile, if you are interested in Crisis Communications training or bespoke Social Media training for your organisation, please do get in touch. You can call the office on 020 7099 2212 or you can Twitter direct message me @themediacoach.
Articles about Twitter and Crisis Comms:
One from MTI Network, a specialist agency; Twitters Growing Importance in Crisis Communications.
Here is an LSE blog with some useful tips for searching twitter: Twitter and crisis communication: an overview of tools for handling social media in real time.
A short introduction, rather simplistic, from the writer of Twitter Marketing for Dummies: How to Use Twitter to Communicate in a Crisis.
A very interesting article written two years ago but still relevant. Using Twitter in Times of Crisis.