A word to the wise: think before you tweet - The Packer

A word to the wise: think before you tweet

01/03/2014 10:29:00 AM
Fred Wilkinson

Fred Wilkinson, Managing EditorFred Wilkinson, Managing EditorBusiness is all about relationships, and in the produce trade — which boasts its share of multi-generational family businesses and a close-knit business culture — maintaining relationships is key.

These days it’s easier than ever before to build and nurture relationships, whether business, personal or both.

Thanks to cell phones, e-mail, Facebook, Twitter and other social media, keeping in touch has never been easier — maybe a little too easy sometimes.

Posters warned that “loose lips might sink ships” during World War II, cautioning people that there could be spies waiting to use information for their advantage.

Today loose lips can torpedo your career, damage your brand or sink your business if an ill-considered or even simply misconstrued off-hand thought posted online spreads around the world in no time.

Consider a recent case that made the news concerning an advertising exec who learned the hard way about the perils of making a joke in poor taste on Twitter.

I guess I should say former ad exec.

Justine Sacco was the head of corporate communications for IAC, a media company that operates numerous websites, including About.com and Match.com.

Before leaving for a December trip to Cape Town, South Africa, she updated her Twitter feed by tweeting, “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!”

While it’s never a good time to broadcast what many would read as a racially insensitive crack about people suffering from a dreadful, incurable illness to all your friends and business associates, Sacco’s timing was particularly bad.

Sitting on a plane, unplugged from her social media accounts and unable to delete or attempt to explain her tweet, she sat unaware of outrage brewing online.

Once the social media sphere blew up with the story, broadcast, cable and print news organizations picked up the story too.

The results from the notorious tweet should come as no surprise. Sacco was fired and publicly apologized, and according to news reports described her joke as “cavalier” and “insensitive.”

It’s bewildering that a public relations pro who built a career around communicating with others in the media and carefully crafting a favorable public image for clients would cause such damage to her professional reputation and career through her unfortunate — or maybe just stupid — lapse of judgment.

By its nature, social media holds promise and pitfalls for business, It also tends to reward outrageous or even offensive comments that are more likely to generate responses.


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Ron Geraci    
New York  |  January, 08, 2014 at 11:51 PM

A confession from one of Justine Sacco's Twitter tormenters -- View from the Pitchfork Mob www.themintyplum.com

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