There is a lot of debate about ‘old media’ versus new. I prefer to think of conventional media as ‘trusted media’ rather than old media. It doesn’t however help the case for the trusted media when they get their facts so spectacularly wrong that it questions the whole notion of journalistic enquiry. The waters are made even more murky when the story is about new media technology.
A piece appeared on the Telegraph website yesterday that announced that “Debenhams has become the first retailer in Britain to use Twitter, the social networking website.” What were they thinking? Did they entirely miss the Habitat scandal when they used trending topics (like Iraq elections) to try to sell lampshades? It goes on, this “is a significant change for Twitter as its primary use until now has simply been as a source of gossip and blogging”. What twaddle.
I am a proponent of PR but what comes next is pure puffery “Rather than finding out the latest celebrity tittle-tattle we’re going to use Twitter to provide customers with instant customer service, ” said Debenhams spokesman Ed Watson. “Our Megaday sale on Wednesday (September 9) is one of the busiest times, so using Twitter in this way will be the equivalent of having a dedicated shop assistant with you for the entire time you are in our store”. This is baffling beyond belief and it shows a basic misunderstanding of how twitter works and what proportion of the public are actively using it.
It wouldn’t have been hard for the Telegraph to check its facts as there are quite a few retailers in the UK using twitter many of them very well; Asda, The Conran Shop, Dixons, Littlewoods, Tie Warehouse, Waterstones, need I go on?