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HMV Boss: How Do I Shut Down Twitter?

31 01 2013

A departing communications staff member at HMV scored a social media first when he or she began live tweeting from what was described as a mass firing of 60 employees.  The first tweet to appear said. “We’re tweeting live from HR where we’re all being fired. Exciting!!  #hmvXFactorFiring”.

The tweets kept coming for a full 15 minutes before the Marketing Director apparently discovered what was happening was alleged to have been overheard saying “how do I shut down Twitter?”  According to the live feed the Marketing Director is not one of those at risk of redundancy.  Clearly the organisation hadn’t considered the social media risks when they called the comms team down to the HR department.  The tweet stream gave a clue as to the level of senior involvement in social media when it referred to the fact that HMV had used an intern to set up the account.

The tweets then stopped abruptly and were erased from the account – apparently the Marketing Direct found out how to shut the channel down.   Business closures are never very pleasant and I hope the HR team and the remaining senior management see the rebel tweets for what they were which was a gallant last stand by employees loyal to the brand.  Anything else would be another PR disaster for the brand and any going concern that survives the cull.

For those of you that missed them here are the tweets in full before they vanished into the ether.

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Jimmy Carr and the Decline of the Press Release

26 06 2012

David Cameron’s allegation that Jimmy Carr was tax dodging put the comedian into crisis mode last Friday.  Five years ago there would have been a press release and possibly a brief statement given to a carefully chosen news channel.  It can’t have escaped your notice that Jimmy Carr put his statement out on Twitter, even though it took five tweets to get the full apology out.

“I appreciate as a comedian, people will expect me to ‘make light’ of this situation, but I’m not going to in this statement,  as this is obviously a serious matter.  I met with a financial advisor and he said to me “Do you want to pay less tax? It’s totally legal.” I said “Yes.”  I now realise I’ve made a terrible error of judgement.  Although I’ve been advised the K2 Tax scheme is entirely legal, and has been fully disclosed to HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs), I’m no longer involved in it and will in future conduct my financial affairs much more responsibly.  Apologies to everyone.  Jimmy Carr.”

Although Carr hasn’t emerged entirely unscathed it is broadly agreed that he did a good job of defusing the story.    So why Twitter?  He has over two million followers, that’s more than the circulation of any newspaper.  He was able to decide the timing of the announcement and he could ensure it was free from comment or selective editing.  So if celebrities are side-stepping the press then they don’t need PR people either?  Not so.  Carr sought the help of  his trusted advisor entertainment PR guru Gary Farrow on the handling of the apology.

Not every celebrity has a multi million follower list and certainly few corporate accounts can boast that sort of number, but if you are at the centre of a media storm is doesn’t matter whether you have 200 or two million, people will be watching and Twitter provides a faster, more effective route than the press release.





SXSW – Biz Stone: Content as a Means for Social Change

12 03 2012

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Biz Stone is back at SXSW for the first time since Twitter blew up there in 2007. In the first of a series of stories he tells is about the birth of Twitter. Twitter wasn’t conveived as a channel for serious communication, it was meant to be fun and social. In the prototype stage, one of the first things Evan Williams tweeted (before the real tweets began to flow) was “Sipping Pinot Noir after a massage in Napa valley”.

By 2007 there were about 5000 twitter users and they “were all the dorks that go to SXSW”. It gave them the “South-West bump” and after that there was seldom a major world event that didn’t feature Twitter. When Biz was called by a journalist and asked about his involvement in a student uprising in Moldova he had to look up Moldova to find out where it was.

The remaining stories cover creativity, being prepared to fail, illustrated with reference to Wim Wenders ‘Wings of Desire’ and the compound value of doing good. Whilst the stories that Biz tells are only loosely connected, they are linked by a theme that links the future of marketing and corporate success to philanthropy. Its his philosophy for business and he walks the talk. Twitter had a CSR person years before it had a sales person.





How Twitter Fuelled the Glitter Fake

21 01 2012

The fake Gary Glitter debacle only just failed to eclipse the weirdness of discovering in the very early hours of New Year’s day that Rupert Murdoch had joined Twitter.

Something happened between those two events that helped the OfficialGlitter account to appear to be really run by the shamed popstar and garner over 15,000 followers.  What happened was that  Twitter suspended official verification, which meant that there was no real way of knowing whether the account was real or not.   Actually twitter has turned verification into a money-making exercise, available only to advertisers and partners.

The Daily Mail, ITN and The Sun all added fuel to the fire with articles about the supposed social media comeback.  Column inches were even devoted to the announcement of a tour and new album.  This would surely not have happened if the official process was still in place.

If you search OfficialGlitter on twitter you’ll see that a huge amount of unnecessary upset was caused by the so-called social media experiment.  The idea that social networks fuel child abuse is arrant nonsense. Parents do need to be vigilant about who their kids associate with, on the wed as elsewhere but this isn’t about government regulation.  It was Gary Glitter’s infamy linked to the notion that it could actually be him that  created the problem here.

Twitter should bring back official verification.  #verifyback





Radio 4 and the Social Media Mainstream

27 09 2011

R4BBC Radio 4 used to be the natural home of the cultural conservatives, high court judges who hadn’t heard of Take That, those sorts of people.  Not any more.  Lately there has been a whole strand in the Archers that is about search engine optimisation and the promotion of Tom Archer’s sausages using digital PR.

Not content with that, the schedulers at the favourite channel of the UK establishment have lined up three short stories themed around Twitter.

The first in the series ‘Between the Tweets’ is broadcast today at 3.30pm.  A TV star’s reputation comes under fire when an anonymous woman accuses him on Twitter of having an affair with her.   ‘Reputation manager’ Bella is called in to deal with the situation.  The story was written by Jojo Moyes, author, journalist and a regular tweeter herself.





Did foam plate #hackgate attacker tweet his plan?

19 07 2011

Self styled comedian and UK Uncut supporter Jonnie Marbles (pictured here) was tweeting live from the culture media and sport select committee session immediately before the bizarre attack on Rupert Murdoch with a foam filled paper plate having enquired about the order of appearance he tweeted at 15.01 “I’m actually in this committee and can confirm: Murdoch is Mr. Burns.”

At 10 to 5 just seconds before the incident he tweeted; “It is a far better thing that I do now than I have ever done before #splat”.  He hasn’t tweeted since.   I think that’s a bit suspect.





Murdoch and the News agenda

7 07 2011

The shock closure of the ‘News of the World’ might be seen as a major PR offensive designed to bring the debate on the phone hacking scandal to a close but it could well be an opportunity for Murdoch junior to kill several birds with a single stone.

Those that think that twitter is one of the birds in question would be guilty of an oversimplification.

The closure certainly seizes the news agenda at least for a time.  It changes the direction of the media storm and perhaps is intended to give Rebekah Brooks some breathing space but dig a little deeper and there’s another angle.

It was reported well before the latest storm broke that the were management mergers at the top of the Times and the Sunday Times but also at The Sun and the News of the World.  Rebekah Brooks was on record saying “We will take a comprehensive look at where there is common ground across our titles …where there is common ground we will find ways of implementing efficiencies to editorial systems and processes and, where appropriate, we will find ways of introducing seven day working.”

Tellingly the web addresses sunonsunday.co.uk and .com were both registered two days ago by a UK individual using the name Mediaspring and who opted to have their address omitted from the registration.  Would it be too cynical to imagine that Murdoch has used the situation to cut costs at Wapping and retain an integrated Sunday red top tabloid using the Sun brand?








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