Would You Want Your Boss to Read This?

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Posted At: November 28, 2012 2:45 P.M.
by Becca Bryant

PR professionals are entrusted with an immense amount of responsibility as representatives for their clients, particularly in the fast-paced online realm. Knowing every client’s social media login information should not be taken lightly. We have the obligation to uphold the client’s reputation, which is a crucial element to the success of the company.

The PR professional can update all social media platforms in an instant from multiple devices. This flexibility, however, increases the chance of account mix-ups and posting mishaps.

Cheryl Bak, social media manager and account executive at DVL public relations and advertising, stresses the power of proofreading.

The PR professional can update all social media platforms in an instant from multiple devices. This flexibility, however, increases the chance of account mix-ups and posting mishaps.

“I proofread everything at least two times. Similarly, when I post publicly from personal accounts, I recognize that what I post can be perceived as a reflection of my company. Try to think: ‘Do I really want my boss to view this?’” Bak advised.

Bak said that proofreading often leads her to recognize from which account she is posting. Only beneficial results can come from proofreading.

Recently, KitchenAid found itself in a sudden PR crisis after a personal tweet was sent from the official KitchenAid handle during the presidential debate. Almost immediately users were threatening to boycott the company and discontinue use of its products. The corporate marketing executive had to do major damage control with a series of apologies via Facebook and Twitter.

Luckily KitchenAid acted fast and the uproar has died down, but that employee will no longer be tweeting for the company.

The American Red Cross faced a similar crisis but creatively made a bad situation beneficial.

The social media specialist sent out a beer-related tweet using the hashtag #gettngslizzerd from the Red Cross Twitter handle rather than from her personal account. This type of mishap is more common than one might think, but how this particular situation was handled is what makes it so interesting.

Red Cross reacted with casual humor: “We’ve deleted the rogue tweet but rest assured the Red Cross is sober and we’ve confiscated the keys.”

The company acknowledged that everyone is human and mistakes are inevitable. The employer responsible for the tweet not only kept her job but donations began to flood in.

The brewer mentioned in the incidental tweet embraced the opportunity and encouraged its audience through Twitter and the brewer’s blog to donate to the Red Cross. The organization received an abundance of donations in reaction to the social media buzz.

Both of these situations are examples of mistakes that can happen to any professional.

“As a communications professional, the best thing to do is respond quickly and don’t ignore the problem. Make sure you have all the facts and react as quickly and accurately as possible,” said Louise Crow, Alabama director at Peritus. “Acknowledge the mistake, take ownership of the actions/wrongdoing, apologize and act accordingly with next steps.”

KitchenAid and The Red Cross had similar issues but implemented unique strategies to deal with the aftermath. PR professionals should always be prepared for any given situation.

Crow said there are two vital action items an agency should implement to avoid this type of social media tragedy.

“The first step is to develop a thorough, strategic plan of action for each client’s social media account: When, where, who and what you will post. What the approval process is. When items should be drafted and approved,” said Crow. “Second, have a crisis management plan in place. This plan should not be written out at the beginning of a campaign and simply live in a desktop folder for the next 12 months, but instead serve as a living, breathing plan that is understood in detail by both the client and agency.”

While being prepared is crucial, there are tools for each social media outlet we can use to avoid a dreaded mix-up.

Twitter

Twitter can be problematic because it is so easy to draft and distribute information. TweetDeck is an application that will assist in managing and monitoring unlimited accounts. It separates each account into columns that can be arranged and customized, making it clear from which handle you are tweeting. SplitTweet(link) is another simple application that allows you to access multiple accounts at once. This app provides a checkbox option next to each handle when you are ready to draft a tweet. SplitTweet also allows you to color code each handle to help visually differentiate accounts.

Facebook

Facebook Pages Manager is a mobile application used by administrators on multiple pages. The main menu displays all available pages in a list and allows you to select one page at a time. Having to choose the specific page you want to view helps clarify from which page you are posting. Be sure to take note of the profile picture displayed to the right of the update status text box. This is another feature that will help you see which page you are logged in to. Pages Manager allows you to have all company account pages on one app and your personal accounts on the original Facebook app. The app icons look different, which makes it difficult to confuse them.

All

Do you want all the social networks in one place? Management tools such as Hootsuite offer access to all social media networks on a single dashboard. This can be helpful because all information is streaming live in one place. Using Hootsuite, there is no need to fumble through three different apps to send an update. This tool is convenient and productive for the PR professional.

Bak advises to designate separate browsers and apps like the aforementioned for your personal use. This eliminates the confusion of having multiple accounts available in one location.

When working from a computer, Crow advises to draft each post in a separate document, which makes for easier proofreading and editing. Crow also noted that constructing a personalized folder for each client with clearly labeled attachments will further help the separation of information.

These tools and techniques can help with management and productivity but none are fool proof. Mistakes can still be made, but do not let fear keep you from tweeting and posting. Make a conscious effort to check which account is active at the time of each update and proceed with caution.

Don’t lose the trust of a client because of a simple mistake that can be avoided. You have the information and the tools; use them.

15 Comments

  1. Leela Foley

    Great article, Becca! I have made the hasty mistake of not checking which account I was posting from. That was definitely a terrifying moment–seeing a tweet about cupcakes from an official Twitter account I was in charge of. Luckily, I caught the mistake within seconds and deleted it before any damage was done. To most of my friends social media is a fun, mindless thing. As public relations professionals, however, we must view it as a job. Bak is right: double checking a tweet is essential, even if it is coming from my personal account. I enjoyed The Red Cross’s creative reaction to the “rogue tweet.” I haven’t considered having a crisis plan in place for social media, but it is something I will keep in mind to use in the future. I use TweetDeck and find it very useful, but I had not heard of Facebook Pages Manager before; thanks for the tip!

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  2. Katherine Upton

    This post gives a lot of good advice! Those apps seem very helpful to manage accounts and easy to use. I did not even know that type of app existed. I have not had the opportunity to use any social media accounts for a organization, but I know I eventually will need to, working in the public relations field. It is unbelievable how much effect social media posts have on the public. Even though social media seems like a casual, conversational way to communicate, a PR professional must put a lot of thought into any post made. Personal account posts cannot be offensive or vulgar either because you are still representing the company you work for.

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  3. Juliana Harless

    Great article with beneficial tips and tricks, Becca! As a public relations intern, I understand the power of having a company’s social media account access in your own hands. On some occasions I too have almost written something intended to come from my own mouth, but instead almost posted it from the company’s name. The various applications to separate your different accounts all seem very helpful and useful; I plan on downloading them right away! The most crucial tip you point out though, in my opinion, is to proofread multiple times. Even after I read over something once, I can still find mistakes the third or fourth time. Being a public relations professional puts your client’s image in your hands, but with technology constantly developing, that message can get to your publics faster and in a greater span than ever before. As you have always been warned, you must be careful what you put on the Internet, this article proving that rule now translates into your job requirement.

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  4. Lindsey Self

    Mrs. Horsley, a teacher in the APR department at The University of Alabama, spoke to my communications class earlier in the semester about the American Red Cross accidental tweet. The tweet from the American Red Cross account was sent from a Hootsuite platform. Platforms like Hootsuite and Cotweet are a great way to keep up with several social media sites, but can be dangerous. When dealing with a professional Facebook or Twitter, several examples, like the American Red Cross tweet, highlight the caution that needs to be taken when on platforms such as these.

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  5. Ellie Dowden

    I was in the same class as Lindsey when Mrs. Horsley spoke about the American Red Cross accidental tweet. It is a great example of how responding quickly and addressing the problem will produce the best outcome. The social media team also addressed the situation in a way that decreased the tweet’s impact. The situation was characterized as a witty story and ended with positive conversation and tons of donations! Your points are more important than most people understand, as social media has become a norm for communication today. I am in charge of several different social media accounts and have to think carefully about which account I am on. It is very easy to get accounts mixed up and programs like Hootesuite can only help organize so much. Great post!

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  6. Caroline

    This article was very helpful! It can be so simple to accidently type or tweet something, and this article gave good advice about how to avoid simple mistakes you can make when dealing with social media. I thought the Red Cross story was very interesting. The comical response was very clever and such a smart idea to recover from the mishap. Also, I enjoyed Hootsuite, and I will want to use it when dealing with social media.

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  7. Erica Davis

    I enjoyed this article and the wealth of knowledge it encompassed. I can definitely see how these simple human errors can become major incidences for a company. Like you mentioned in the article the best way to combat these mistakes is to proofread several times. As an upcoming PR professional it is important to be mindful of what we post on our current personal accounts as well. I recently have been reviewing my Facebook account and actually deleting friends that use their accounts too carelessly. Great information on TweetDeck and Facebook Pages Manager–these tools seem extremely beneficial and I will be using them in the near future.

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  8. Jeanne Turkheimer

    This is a really informative article with a lot of great advice. This past summer I worked as a marketing intern for TV Guide and monitored both their Twitter and Facebook accounts. By doing this, I understand how much work it entails monitoring these social media outlets. The most beneficial tip that was addressed, I find is to proofread, then proofread again. Bryant notes, “That proofreading often leads [Bak] to recognize from which account she is posting. Only beneficial results can come from proofreading.” I know for a fact that even when I read and reread I will still find mistakes. I would then send my tweets and posts to my boss to ensure that what I was composing was appropriate for the company’s social media outlets. This article proves that you need to realize that whatever you put on the Internet can affect your future or current career.

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  9. Jennie Fisher

    This was such an enjoyable and informative article. I particularly enjoyed reading about Red Cross handling the Twitter snafu. I think the way Red Cross dealt with that particular situation was perfect! It made me laugh out loud! I love the unexpected positive outcome when donations started increasing because of the tweet! This mistake, while producing positive results, could have been seriously detrimental to the organization. The advice offered, especially regarding the different apps used to manage multiple social media accounts, was helpful. I have been helping a local gym with managing its Twitter and Facebook. The owner was looking for a way to alternate between his personal account and professional account without having to logout and login again. The Facebook app does not have this capability, so I suggested he use a social media manager app like one of the ones you mentioned. This was a very helpful recommendation, and I may favorite the link to this page for use when I am working as a PR professional, managing various social media accounts.

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  10. Haley Clemons

    I help manage the social media accounts for the Community Service Center. I have found that proofreading is essential. It is a huge responsibility to update and manage several social media accounts at once. HootSuite helps make the task slightly less daunting. The Red Cross incident is a great example of crisis management and really inspired me to do the best I can at my job. As interesting as the Red Cross example is, nothing compares to Anthony Weiner and his Twitter incident. Weiner denied that the partially nude photos were his, but as other photos surfaced he ultimately took the blame. I believe that he should have confessed at the beginning. The public always finds out the truth and lying only makes the situation worse. Social media is a big responsibility.

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  11. Ashley Huntley

    As a future PR professional, I completely understand the importance of social media. I have learned that social media is the leading form of communicating with a company’s target audience and it is imperative to possess accurate and timely information. Your insightful suggestions on dealing with the “aftermath” were extremely helpful when working with a possible client and I loved how you included the key facts in making a post. I thoroughly enjoyed this article and truly gained essential tips to help me succeed in my future. Good Job Becca!

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  12. Megan O'Malley

    Thank you for the great article, Becca! Too often people post things through social media that they later come to regret. It is important to always be aware who you are posting as and to ensure that the message coincides with the message of the person or organization being represented. I was not previously familiar with programs such as TweetDeck and Facebook Pages Managers but they seem like great ways to help ensure accuracy. The importance of proofreading cannot be stressed enough. It is always a good idea to proofread anything published or posted at least twice. In addition, I think it is beneficial to have a fresh pair of eyes look at the posting before publication. Kitchen Aid and American Red Cross both had interesting and unique ways of handling crisis situations. I did not like the Red Cross’s solution as much as Kitchen Aid’s approach. I felt that although it was funny and out of the box it was a little unprofessional and inappropriate for a serious institution to make light of. Situations such as these stress the importance of always having an emergency action plan. Although each crisis situation varies, it is important to have some sort of protocol to guide by.

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  13. Cassandra Kaplan

    With social media becoming even more popular in the last few years, this article is a good way to tell people that they need to be careful as to what they post on the Internet. The example from Red Cross proved just how harmful a message meant for another outlet can really be. The company took it in stride and I feel that shows its character. As a campus representative for a company from outside Alabama, I have learned (and attempted) to be very careful about the things I post and from what accounts those are posted from. It was quite the telephone call I received from my boss asking why there was a status talking about a vacation I had just taken on the organization’s official page. This was a very insightful article and you did a wonderful job writing it.

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  14. Elizabeth

    I love your article, Becca! This is something that we all need to pay attention to regarding personal or professional accounts. It is very important to remember that you not only represent yourself but also your profession. Although social media and an online presence is important to a company’s survival, it can also hurt them if used improperly. I recently did a case study on companies and the use of social media. It’s the fastest way to spread information, but this isn’t always a good thing. Thanks for the good read.

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  15. Madison

    This is a really great article! As a PR student, I know how much social media can affect a company, and how much I pay attention to an organization’s social media pages. Personally, I know I tend to think less of a company that makes a mistake in a social media posting, especially if it happens to be a grammar mistake. I know people are human, and there is a good possibility I will make a mistake, but to me it feels like the company didn’t care enough to double check behind them. These are all really great tips to try to avoid a mishap in the future!

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