Avoid Brand-Killing Tweets

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Twitter is a tremendous social media communication tool. Unfortunately, it’s also been where far too many careers and brands have gone to die, imploding in a barrage of negative PR related to, sometimes, a single tweet. There are a lot of reasons why Twitter has been a career killer, but our focus in this article is not to point those out – again. We’re here to help you set up a vibrant and effective Twitter campaign that won’t blow up on you. First, check your structure. Don’t just text and tweet. Read back through your message. Check it for proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Make sure the message you send is exactly the one you want retweeted until it’s officially viral. This is important because, once it’s tweeted, it’s permanent.

Sure, you can try to delete your tweet, but, chances are, someone already captured it. Next, before you tweet, take a breath and calm down a little bit. Check your mood: are you excited, angry, frustrated? That’s fine, we all get that way, but you need to make sure your message is moderated in a way that transcends your current mood. To that effect, keep profanity and other socially-unacceptable language, out of your message. You may really, really, really want to call that person or brand something unfit for family programming… but do you really want that message to be the one that defines your brand and your career? We realize Twitter is designed to be both casual and confrontational, and it’s okay to draw a line in the sand, but you want to be clear, and you want to deliver a message you won’t have to apologize for when your mood changes.

Once you have a message that you are willing to stand by, no matter how you may feel later in the day (or the next morning), understand that’s only half of your Twitter PR responsibility. What you do after the tweet is out matters just as much. Don’t feed the trolls, and avoid escalating arguments. This can be difficult because some people who don’t have your responsibility or as much riding on their tweets are out there just to get their entertainment by upsetting folks. Again, these people may not have anything to lose, but you do. Learn how to disengage. Just walk away. Do not feed the trolls, and don’t get in flame wars with anonymous “followers.” Remember, it’s never the trolls that make the news and pay the consequences. Only the person they managed to goad into tweeting something unacceptable.

Finally, consider the content you are engaging with before you respond. In many cases, people whose brands or reputations have been hurt by Twitter didn’t originally post content. They shared, retweeted, or replied to content without first checking the source of the initial post. In the world of social media PR, guilt by association can be very real, and very powerful.

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Ronn Torossian is the Founder, President and CEO of New York-based 5W Public Relations. He has overseen the company's rapid growth and expansion to the Inc. 500 list, as well as provided counsel to hundreds of companies, including members of the Fortune 500, Inc. 500 and Forbes 400. His work spans global interests, corporate entities, high-profile individuals, regional business entities, government agencies and academic institutions - both on routine public relations matters and extremely sensitive issues. One of the foremost public relations experts in the U.S., Torossian is known for his aggressive, results-focused orientation, as well as his close working relationships with members of the media, influencers, decision makers, politicians and celebrities. At 5W Public Relations, Torossian's client experience has included programs for Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Anheuser-Busch, Barnes & Noble, Cantor Fitzgerald, IHOP, McDonald's, Evian, EDS, VeriSign, XM Radio, Seagram's, The Loews Regency, Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment, Marriott Hotels, Vail Resorts, Pamela Anderson, Snoop Dogg, the Government of Israel, and others. Referred to by The New York Post as a "publicity guru," by Fox News as a "high-powered PR CEO," by Tyra Banks as a "crisis management guru," and by CNN as "a leading PR expert," Torossian is regularly featured in and quoted by the media, including by CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, NBC, The New York Times, and others. CBS National News said "Ronn Torossian knows spin," and a New York Times feature story on Torossian referred to him as "The consummate hard-driving, scrappy NY publicist." Earlier in his career, Torossian was a Vice President/Group Director for one of The InterPublic Group's (IPG) largest PR agencies, where he was responsible for significant client growth and successful client programs, including work for Clinique, Fox News Channel, DHL, Hard Rock Café and others. A resident of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Torossian was named to the Advertising Age "40 Under 40" list, PR Week's "40 Under 40" List, is a regular lecturer at universities and conferences, a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a board member of numerous non-profit organizations.

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