Lockheed Martin Takes Happy Flight on Twitter During ’60 Minutes’

A potentially damaging 60 Minutes report on May 6 prompted a defense contractor to do what few in that normally buttoned-down industry would ever try: use social media to influence the impact of a broadcast story while it was airing. But was it the right PR strategy?

As reporter Leslie Stahl and two military pilots discussed a mysterious flaw in Lockheed Martin's F-22 jet that has resulted in disorientation and other symptoms in pilots, the company took to its Twitter page (@LockheedMartin) with positive tweets about its planes. Here are a couple of examples of Lockheed Martin’s tweets:

While using Twitter during the broadcast itself was bold, a more authentic tack would have been for Lockheed Martin to address questions raised by the report rather than sending happy tweets about the F-22.

Lockheed Martin’s strategy of being positive on one platform while damage was being done on another seems “too obvious and forced,” says Priya Ramesh, director, social media, at CRT/tanaka. "It’s like tweeting, ‘Oh, my house is so beautiful, come visit us soon,’ when there might be a small fire starting in the house. Your audience is pretty smart, and will figure out what you’re trying to do.”

One alternative strategy might have been for Lockheed Martin to film a 30-second video response to the segment and promote that via Twitter, says Ramesh.

A larger lesson: People are now socially sharing what they view on TV, so as content producers themselves, brands need to listen and engage with their audience on Twitter and Facebook whenever they are in the spotlight (either harsh or flattering) on TV.

Follow Scott Van Camp: @svancamp01

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About Scott Van Camp

Scott Van Camp is editor of PR News, an executive-level, reader-supported publication that helps enhance the business impact of PR. Scott has a rich background in both journalism and PR/marketing. He has more than 15 years of experience as a writer/editor at various consumer and trade publications. Scott was with VNU Business Publications for five years, including stints as managing editor at IQ News and Technology Marketing magazines and senior editor at Brandweek. In the PR/marketing sphere, he has served as corporate communications manager at MarketBridge, a marketing and sales consultancy, and as editorial director for the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council. While at the Council, Scott led several high-profile marketing research projects. He has also operated his own communications and media consulting firm, SVC Communications.

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