4 Common Mistakes PR Pros Make on Twitter

twitter-bird-white-on-blueTwitter is by no means a new platform, yet for some reason, many PR pros—and professionals of all stripes—continue to misuse, misunderstand and not fully take advantage of it. Here are four common mistakes PR professionals are making on Twitter, and how they can fix them.

  1. Lacking personality: With their clients, co-workers and other peers following them, many PR pros fear being too personal on Twitter. However, it is certainly possible to remain professional and showcase your personality at the same time. At CooperKatz & Co. we constantly preach how incorporating our personalities into our writing enhances it, and the same holds true when restricted to 140 characters.
  2. Maintaining two separate accounts: Maintaining two Twitter accounts—one for personal and one for professional usage—may have been acceptable years ago, but it has since become largely frowned upon, and for good reason. After all, if you’re saying something to your friends on Twitter that you wouldn’t say to your colleagues, you probably shouldn’t be saying it on the Internet at all.
  3. Playing fast and loose with manual retweets: As PR pros, we know that we don’t just write tweets—we craft them. Everything down to the punctuation is intentional. Thus, if you’re going to manually retweet a tweet (meaning copying and pasting a tweet with “RT” in front of it, as opposed to hitting the “Retweet” button), don’t change the original tweeter’s writing. Or, if you need to for space reasons, be sure to use “MT,” which stands for modified tweet, to clearly indicate that changes have been made.
  4. Direct message abuse: For active Twitter users—which most journalists are, as well as many consumers—a Twitter direct message inbox is more personal than an email inbox. After all, you can only send a direct message to a user who is following you. So if you’d like to reach out to a journalist or consumer on Twitter, tweet at them; don’t spam their direct message inbox. Doing the latter is more likely to get you an unfollow than a positive response.

Fully taking advantage of Twitter and using it correctly will undoubtedly improve your performance at work. It’s time for all PR pros to take Twitter seriously.

To get the latest best practices on using Twitter for PR, register for PR News' March 14 Twitter & Vine webinar.

Ben Murray is an account coordinator at CooperKatz & Co. Inc. He tweets @benmurr.

  • Heather Bosley

    Thanks for the tips – question/comment re: #3. I’ve previously read adding a comment in front of things you retweet, to add some context around why you’re retweeting it (ie: “must read for pr pros”), is important to add personality and flag for certain followers. From my mobile I tend to quote tweets…but a lot of these wonderfully crafted tweets are too long for me to add anything, so I tend to modify, w/o changing context. I would add to your list that PR pros need to shorten tweets if they want them retweeted. Twitter wouldn’t be fun if it was just a series of retweets–you want to see how people engage and respond to your content, so you need to leave them a few characters to do so. Am I wrong for thinking it’s good to add comments in front of RTs?

    • Ben Murray

      Hey, Heather. I completely agree that adding context around why you’re retweeting can be beneficial, and that seeing how people engage with and respond to your content is important. If you have to modify someone’s wording in order to retweet with that added context, the simple solution is to use “MT” – as opposed to quoting or using “RT” – because it signifies that changes have been made to the original tweet.

  • EML

    Regarding points 1 and 2 – the reason I have two separate accounts is because I’m a die hard Christian. It’s funny because I almost feel the need to justify that statement alone. Please note – die-hard Christian means I worship God and believe Jesus was the incarnation of the living God and I follow his teachings. However, I’m not homophobic or pro-life (although I do think life is a good choice) because people make a lot of assumptions about Christians based on extremists who use the Bible as an excuse to judge and hate. Still – I like to share scripture that is inspiring and speak to the role God plays in my life on an ongoing basis – and I’m fairly certain that being a PR pro representing a Fortune 500 company you aren’t supposed to be “pushing” your faith on others. And unfortunately many people who aren’t of the same faith see “sharing” as “Pushing”. So that’s why I keep two separate accounts. Just like someone making political statements I disagree with may make me hesitate to follow them – I’m sure the same would be true of religious statements even if they are harmless. However, you don’t truly know “me” unless you know my faith and that everything I experience in life goes through the filter that God is love and life has a purpose and there is a good and bad. So yes, I can tweet about my children having a football game, maybe about my alma mater or news that interests me. But God is bound to show up…and when he does, how many non-believing journalists will stop following my company news?

  • Jo

    Firmly disagree with #2: There are people who just want to keep up with me in a business sense and only read and interact on what might be relevant to them, without the added ‘noise’ of my home, family, pets etc. that they get when following my personal account. So I give them that choice and it works.

    Secondly, I think a more common PR mistake is to post blogs/articles about “dos and don’ts” in respect of social media, because they – especially Twitter – tend to be quite anarchic in the sense that (beyond the Ts and Cs) there aren’t any real rules, just other users’ likes and dislikes… which change every day.

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