New media author David Henderson has a post on his blog about a Ketchum vice president who went to visit a client in Memphis (the title, by the way, of an underrated Joe Jackson song). The VP made a Twitter post that said:
“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.’”
The client took umbrage and the drama began. David has all the details at his blog.
I’m not a big fan of stories like this. Social media pundits enjoy jumping down the throats of PR professionals for every mistake they make — especially when it happens to occur on a social media platform like Twitter. So expect lots of pontification about what a “dolt” the VP is and preachy admonishments about the proper way to use social media. It’s already started among many of the commenters at David’s blog.
Here is the first rule of social media (whether it’s blogging, Facebook, Twitter, etc.): Mistakes will be made. Guaranteed. Social media is a nascent form of communication. Everyone — including the pundits — is still figuring it all out. It changes quickly. So when you start to use these new forms, you’re going to make mistakes.
I think the better judge of the Ketchum situation is what the VP did after he blundered. He apologized to the client. The client accepted the apology and moved on. Good for the VP, good for the client.
And that’s the real lesson of this story.
UPDATE: Ketchum VP blogs about his side of the story. Not quite as transparent as one would hope.