The “Great Chrysler Twitter Fiasco” of 2011 will go down in the books as an important lesson for the way major brands should behave on Twitter. If you don’t remember the incident, allow me to summarize for you. A company called New Media Strategies had been retained by Chrysler to represent them on Twitter. An employee of NMS was driving one morning and decided to use Twitter to bitch about Michigan drivers. He used the “F-word” and went about his business.

However, he fat-fingered his phone or something, and the Tweet went out on the @ChryslerAutos main corporate account. Ouch.

No big deal, right? It was an accident, we’re all human, it happens.

But in the world of social media, the news spread quickly. NMS was fired by Chrysler and it got talked about for weeks afterwards. In the Detroit social media scene, it was the topic of a special gathering of local social media businesspeople, and Chrysler had reps on hand to discuss it. It was, for lack of a better term, a Big Deal™. No matter what side of the debate you fall on, the end result was: NMS lost a client because of a simple mistake on Twitter.

Well friends, it has happened again, but the details are slightly different.

A few days ago, a major video game release came out. Called “Duke Nukem Forever”, the game had a lot of history (the story is long and interesting, but a summary is that it was supposed to have come out ten years ago and it’s been an amazingly fractious development process. There is a lot of emotion involved). The game was published by a company called 2K Games and represented on the PR side by a one-man PR firm called The Redner Group.

As reviews for the game started pouring in, they were almost universally bad. After ten years of development, one of the most hotly anticipated video games of all time was getting torn to shreds in reviews. Jim Redner didn’t like that. He was invested in this title, 2K Games was his biggest client, and his big game was getting panned. He got pissed, and unfortunately for him, he took it to Twitter.

He said a bunch of things, but the thing that got him into trouble was this: He said that based on the bad reviews, he would be re-evaluating who gets review copies of games in the future. In the gaming PR industry, this is called “blacklisting”, and it’s not supposed to happen (though it does).

2K Games, Redner’s client, did not like that. At all. They fired him almost immediately.

Now we’re left with the discussion and debate amongst PR, Social Media, and game media. Was Redner fired fairly? Did he screw up that bad? Should he be strung up? The opinions are all over the map.

Just like the Chrysler F-bomb: Regardless of where you stand, the end result is that a man lost a big client yesterday. Hit him directly in the pocketbook. If he hadn’t Tweeted what he did, he may still have a job today.

Right or wrong, keep that in mind when you Tweet on behalf of a business.

Photo Credit: Anthony Kelly on Flickr

4 Responses to Think before you Tweet

  1. For the record, “fat-fingered” is my new favorite verb.

    This is a great recap of two of the biggest “uh ohs” in the PR and social media industry recently. While the end result was similar in both instances, the difference lies in the intent. The poor NMS guy thought he was tweeting from his personal account. He didn’t mean to drag Chrysler — and his company — through the mud by dropping the F bomb. Yes, he should have been more careful, but anyone who uses third-party applications to manage social media accounts knows exactly how easy it would be to do the exact same thing.

    Redner, however, knew what he was doing when he took to his company’s Twitter account to whine about the game’s bad reviews and about his planned revenge for those he felt had wronged him. He got caught up in the heat of the moment, had a temper tantrum and he paid a hefty price.

    IMHO, NMS guy didn’t deserve to lose his job. Redner, however, made his own bed and now he has to lie in it.

    Erica Moss | June 16, 2011at 3:15 pm

  2. Erica, you pretty much said it all.

    Matt Dibble | June 16, 2011at 3:27 pm

  3. @Erica: Absolutely agreed. I personally don’t think Chrysler guy should have been the stool pigeon for that, and I think Chrysler over-reacted quite a bit on that one.

    The tricky thing with Redner is that he brought the blacklisting discussion into the limelight. For years it’s been a known, yet never discussed fact that blacklisting in the video game PR industry happens, even subconsciously. “Oh we have only X review units to give out, I guess the site that bashed our last title is on the bottom of our priority list.”

    In a way, Redner is a martyr. 2K could have made this a PR opportunity by accepting Redner’s apology and making a strong statement that they do not adhere to that policy. Perhaps forgiveness could have prolonged the conversation and started a much-needed conversation about the blacklisting problem in game PR.

    Brian Ambrozy | June 16, 2011at 3:57 pm

  4. I think I learn something new from you every day, Ambrozy!

    Erica Moss | June 16, 2011at 4:38 pm

Leave a Reply

Note: Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Let us take a peek at your site to review the key points that directly affect your online presence.

Fill out the form above or call 248.582.9210

Trademark Productions is a Google Partner