“Off the Record” Agency Twittering is Risky

Most PR people would agree that it’s generally best to avoid making off-the-record comments to the news media. That’s because we recognize the danger of having an executive or clients say anything to a reporter that they wouldn’t want to see in print or on the Internet, or have aired on radio or TV.

Yet, for some reason, normally prudent executives and even some PR professionals sometimes write all kinds of things on Twitter that could prove embarrassing to them. Recently the VP of a large PR firm, who had just arrived at a city where he was about to make a presentation to a large client, Twittered the following: “True confession but I’m in one of those towns where I scratch my head and say I would die if I had to live here!”

One of the employees discovered the comment, was offended and replied – copying the agency’s and company’s leadership. Sounds painful, doesn’t it?

Perhaps Twitter gives some people a false sense of security, similar to what they might have if writing a personal journal they think no one will see. But remember, any one with access to the Internet–including reporters, clients, competitors and people who just plain don’t like you–can see every word you’ve written and use those words against you.

If your agency’s staff uses Twitter, it’s a good idea to remind them–and yourself–to be careful when using social media and avoid tweeting anything you wouldn’t want the world to see. Because it just might.

Don Beehler provides public relations consulting services to small- and medium-sized advertising agencies and businesses.

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