Avoiding PR Pitfalls on Personal Twitter Accounts

June 28, 2011

You’ve heard the stories of how one social media slip-up can damage a person’s livelihood or reputation. Remember Gilbert Gottfried and the fallout of his poorly timed tsunami jokes? It cost him his job as the AFLAC spokesman. While social media is a wonderful tool to expand your personal credibility and reputation through public conversation, it’s also helpful if you establish guidelines for your tweet messaging. Following are a few tips from us on how to keep your personal Twitter account from causing a public relations nightmare.

Choose wisely: If you have a ghost-tweeter, determine the tone of the messages you’d like to relay. Make sure you have a person in place to create and deliver them who truly understands your “personal brand.”

Don’t be a Weiner: Don’t say anything that you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of the newspaper. And know that the media views social media as quotable without your “permission.” It is in the public domain. Period.

Stay focused: Once you determine your tone, stick to it. Don’t stray too far from the voice of your brand.

Have fun: It’s ok to show your sense of humor but remember your dinner party etiquette – taboo subjects like sex, abortion, off-color jokes, religion and politics will probably lose you followers.

Contribute to the conversation: Jump in the conversation and make some new friends. Comment on the tweets of people you follow and speak freely and often on topics geared to your industry.

Don’t tweet after happy hour: Enough said.

All in all, have fun but remember that Twitter is a representation of you. Refrain from saying anything that you wouldn’t want a client, partner, employee, vendor or reporter to ask you about. For information on how to design a personal Twitter account – complete with best messaging practices – email BroadBased’s director of public relations, Maria Coppola.


Jan Hirabayashi founded BroadBased in 1996 and is the company's CEO and lead marketing strategist.