Communicators Can’t Get Tripped Up by Twitter Chat


When your company opens up a public Twitter Chat, your communicators had better be ready to field any questions or comments—especially the negative comments that may be hurled from left field. JP Morgan, for one, was apparently not ready last week, and responded to all the negative comments tweeted before the event by simply shutting the whole Q&A down before it even began

Not exactly a graceful exit. But not surprising either, when we recall British Gas getting hammered with more than 16,000 negatives tweets in a similar situation last month.

It’s easy to say that these companies should have been ready to respond across the spectrum of comments, but Twitter Chats  are really the Wild Wild West of corporate communication: anything can happen, and when it does, you can’t just hustle the activist/protagonist out of the room, or ignore the question/comment altogether.There is absolutely no filter, and it can get pretty rough.

There’s a few takeaways here for PR pros:

> Consider your industryIf you’re in finance and foreclosures, bankruptcies and 401k horror stories have dominated the news for the last few years, you may want to engage the public in a more controlled environment. The same applies for utilities — users have always hated the utility companies in good times or bad. Giving those users a chance to express themselves publicly (and anonymously) is just asking for trouble.

> Consider your Topic: If your Q&A is liable to strike deep emotions, or touch on personal beliefs, stay away. The potential for disaster is overwhelming.

> Consider your audience: If you’re looking to raise awareness for a celebrity backed product release, this is a great forum. Your audience is probably ridiculously eager to ask Demi Lovato a softball question.

Follow Brian Kelly: @bwpkelly