The $20 Million Tweet

These days, we have the opportunity to reach millions of people at our fingertips.  Social media is a blessing and a curse. When everyone is listening, no one will forget.

Yesterday, a judge allowed Tesla CEO Elon Musk to settle with the SEC for $20 Million over his comments on Twitter about taking his company private.  In addition to the hefty fine, Musk will step down as Tesla’s chairman for at least three years although he will remain the company’s chief executive.

Musk is not the only prominent newsmaker whose “Twitch to Tweet” has backfired.  From the White House to Wall Street…these trigger happy Twitter junkies are a nightmare. We know because we’ve represented Fortune 500 companies, celebs and professional athletes for 30 years.  Once a client rises to a certain level of notoriety, everything changes. In PR, there is a saying, “One should always assume the microphone is live.” At the level of Musk and Trump, one should also assume the cameras are always rolling.  One post on social media and you’ve just shared your message with the world. There is no going back.

What’s the moral of the story?  Think. Pause. Stay on message.  In a moment of excitement or frustration, you’re not thinking at your best.  You are reacting. So hit the pause button, remember that you’re the spokesperson for a company (or even a country) and that there will be serious ramifications for your actions.  

Or you could always call your publicist at 2 am and have him draft a perfect response that positions you favorably just in time for the morning news.

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Purple Penguin

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