An Offensive Tweet Sparks Backlash Against Johns Hopkins

An offensive Tweet by a woman believed to be an employee of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine has led to her being vilified and the school being tainted by her actions.

On Sunday, Sept. 23, the Baltimore Sun reported that New England Patriots fan @katiebrady12 went overboard with her fandom as, following a Patriots loss to the Baltimore Ravens, she tweeted: “Hey, Smith, how about you call your bro and tell him all about your wi--- ohhhh. Wait. #TooSoon?”

Jokes on social media are to be expected, particularly when it involves sports. But this user’s tweet was clearly aimed at Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith, whose brother was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident just hours before the game. It was insensitive and uncalled for.

The tweet went viral and was picked up by everyone from the average Twitter user to key sports influencers like Smith’s teammate Ray Rice, who tweeted: "smh u are terrible I hope you know the word karma.”

Some Internet research apparently identified the source of the tweet a resident of Baltimore who was employed by Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

The famed medical center was "innundated with feedback" forcing it to release an official statement.

“Our deepest sympathies are with Torrey Smith and his family. The social media comment that made light of the Smith family’s loss represented the thoughts of one individual. It does not in any way represent the Johns Hopkins community," said Dennis O'Shea, spokesman for Johns Hopkins, told the Sun.

The lesson for PR pros to take away from this is to remember that although you may be tweeting from a personal account, you’re still representing the organization you work for. Organizations can be proactive by establishing a social media policy or reminding employees of one already in place can go a long way in avoiding a crisis created by a tasteless tweet. Everyone has the right to a personal Twitter account. But when your tweets cross the line, your account is no longer entirely personal.

In the end, all the policies can be implemented to avoid creating a PR crisis. The best solution to not catch yourself in this situation is simple: Think before you hit send.

Follow Jamar Hudson: @jamarhudson