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

 

  




3 Comments

Deals of the Week

Get $150 Off PR News' PR Measurement Conference

 prnews-measurement-conf-175x135-static

Join us on November 20, 2014, for PR News’ essential PR Measurement Conference, taking place at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. Commit now to grounding all of your PR efforts in metrics that connect to organizational goals and prove value that communications makes in thriving b2c and b2b companies, nonprofits and professional associations.

Use code “150off” at checkout.

Get $50 off PR News' Media Relations Guidebook


book-mediarelations-180x150

This 8-chapter resource contains practical implications for some of the most innovative developments in media relations, including the technologies, methodologies and mannerisms that determine the ecosystem in which PR pros practice this essential part of their craft.

Use code “50off” at checkout.

Save $100 on a PR News Subscription



Let PR News become your weekly, go-to resource for the latest PR trends, case studies and tip sheets. Topics covered include visual storytelling, social media, measurement, crisis management and media relations.

Use code “SUBDEAL” at checkout.

  • Ben Hebert

    I posted the story from my personal blog and it went viral after this. I tried to take the angle of watch what you say on social media and how everything is public, but it’s evolved into something much larger.

    Crazy.

  • Deborah Porter

    I am curious. Although this person was employed by JH, why was it necessary to tie her teeth in with her employer to track her down. This in turn forced the company to apologize for something the employee did on their own time. Are you implying that there is no privacy for those who use twitter? Holding the twitter person accountable for their own activities is one thing, but to dig into her background and hold her employer accountable is another. Does this mean that if a person want to protect their own privacy they should not honestly list the name of the company they are actually employed by. This as tasteless as it was to me implied a breach of privacy for individuals.

    Is there any privacy to our lives on social media. Looking at this person’s profile it doesn’t point out that she’s an employee of JH?

    As much as we want to say every employee of every company is forever always on the company dime through employment, where does the person have any privacy when signing up for free account. It makes one wonder that providing a real place of employment on your profile is not worth the fall out of negative publicity. I should be held accountable for my tweets unless I am using the company account or the company name while tweeting.

  • scurvybro

    The people who “inundated” Johns Hopkins with complaints are idiots. This tweet was purely this woman’s and had no connection with Hopkins.

    I’m sure there are thousands of equally offensive tweets on a daily basis. Do people go after Ford, Coca-Cola, Wal Mart or whoever happens to employ the senders of these tweets?