Avoid Brand-Killing Tweets


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 and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 20 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth, overseeing more than 175 professionals in the company's headquarters in midtown Manhattan. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named "PR Agency of the Year" by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world's most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, and a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, was named to PR Week's "40 under Forty" list, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations" is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian lives in Manhattan with his children. He is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities.