Updated #PR Guidelines for using Twitter

Jan 23 2017


If Twitter needed a “boost” to the brand, it is certainly getting it with the Trump’s tweets being watched 24/7 and the media constantly referring to his Twitter stream. As we have heard, it has allowed him to take his message directly to his audience. Politics aside, there can be much learned from one of the world’s most powerful users.

For years I have told clients that Twitter is a great platform for telling your story. I have written blogs on the subject and once appeared on a national Fox news segment for using Twitter for good. When used properly, it can be very powerful. As we watch the world engage with media and Trump (like him or not) we should think about how we can use Twitter to further our own cause, brand or campaign.

As Twitter has evolved–and many are asking where it is going–I believe it is one of the absolute best platforms for news and events. Watching a sports team and following along in the conversation using the hashtag is a prime example. When there were earthquakes in Italy last week, the world turns to Twitter for live information. It has tremendous news value. Therefore, anyone in PR or media must also be using and watching what is happening on Twitter. Here are some updated and refreshed observations and “guidelines” for you to think about in your own use of this powerful platform.

  • Twitter is a global platform: I like Twitter for its open platform. Anyone can find information and the public nature of tweets means the media can find what you are saying, screen shot it and use it in their stories. Sources don’t even have to talk to reporters now because their Twitter feed is their voice, their words. Very powerful and Trump has certainly been a prime example of this.
  • News breaks on Twitter first: I have long said that “Twitter is the tripwire for news.” If anything happens, you are likely to see it on Twitter first. Everyone has a smart phone and everyone is reporting what is happening with video, photos, etc. What this means for journalists is that PR is 24/7 and viral–everyone has to work a lot faster.
  • Best practices have evolved and are here to stay: We are no longer in the “test” phase. Corporate guidelines have been established and companies now have policies in place for using Twitter.
  • Lawsuits now have their place in Twitter history: People have been sued for saying certain things on Twitter as it is a powerful data source for brands. Don’t tweet false information and use a valid source if you are arguing a point.
  • Corporations don’t want Twitter controversy: Just as big brands use Twitter for customer service they also steer clear of negativity.
  • Your internal message is also your external message: the internet has merged your personal information with your professional information. Gone are the days of having a “personal” page–your name ties you to all that you do and Google has it all. And if you are a reporter or in the media, putting “my tweets are my own” does not necessarily absolve you from accountability. The old rule of verification prior to posting still applies. So although citizens can certainly “report” (and do), media must continue to verify and be the “gatekeepers” of the facts.
  • “Stalkers of Talkers” is what I call people who join Twitter for the sole purpose of listening. Older professionals (me included) who grew up in the “traditional PR” days know that Twitter is a great place to take a look at what people are saying. Twitter also gives people insight into how others may be thinking. If you are in a position of public service or government service, you already know that you must be careful of what you say online (not just Twitter).
  • Twitter is classified by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) as a “Mico-blogging” site. Under this classification many guidelines apply for brands and here is a link to the newest FTC guidelines for 2016 http://mediakix.com/2016/09/ftc-social-media-guidelines-2016/#gs.EtTXlkU
  • Twitter causes more “crisis PR” for brands: PR and Twitter especially go hand in hand now. If you are in PR, you are on Twitter. Clients need their PR pros to understand Twitter, know how to monitor and engage to solve problems. Although there may be more issues for brands, they do seem to have a shorter lifespan.

I hope you liked this and if you did, you might like other posts on my blog at www.howell-marketing.com.