Back in January, I wrote about a high-level public relations agency exec who embarrassed himself and his agency by tweeting how he hated visiting his client's headquarters city of Memphis, calling it a cultural wasteland.
People at the client saw his tweet and it quickly got passed throughout the company. Last I heard, the agency kept the giant account, but the wayward tweeter was removed from running the account.The lesson then -- be careful what you say online -- is as true now as it was ten months ago.
Even a supposedly private email can create a problem. Last year I sent an email to a friend, saying some gossipy (but true) things about someone else who we both knew. Months later, the recipient of that email accidentally it to a few people -- including the person I had ripped into. It proved to be a bit awkward for me.
I've learned -- if you don't want anyone to know what you've said, don't write it -- especially online in any form. Personal conversations and phone chats are safer, for sure.
I just heard a story about another online communication that backfired on the person who sent it. Over breakfast a few days ago with a widely-followed business reporter at The New York Times, he told me how he had done an interview with an ad agency executive for a story to run the next day. The person who was interviewed wanted to blow his own horn, so he bragged on Twitter that he'd just spoken with this reporter, and he went on to say what the story was about.
The reporter was surprised when, moments after the interview, he got a call from the guy's competitor at another agency, saying he heard the reporter was working on a particular story.
By trying to make himself look more important, the tweeter unwittingly invited a competitor into the story that eventually appeared. The reporter wasn't all too happy, either, since the tweets also could have tipped off reporters at other papers to the story he was breaking. I don't think that reporter is too fast to respond these days to that guy's calls and emails.
So again, the lesson to be learned is this:
Be careful what you say and where you say it.
If it's using any form of digital communication, perhaps it's wisest to keep quiet. Or at least think before you tweet, email or blog. Remember -- it could be out there for the world to see.