One of the biggest PR firms in the world recently parted company with Twitter – after just a few weeks.
Rather than dwell on what makes a client fire a PR agency after just a few weeks (it was a load of changes in the marketing team at Twitter that forced their hand BTW) the question is – does Twitter really need a PR company?
Indeed, under what circumstances does a business or brand not need a PR agency?
Twitter is ubiquitous in the media. It is building up trust and influence on a daily basis. The more journalists quote tweets rather than getting a direct exclusive quote from a celebrity – the more the negation of the need for their existence. National journalists swallowing the bait set by the celebrity personal PR machine will lead to British tabloids being positvely owned by celebrities who are cocksure of their dominance following the phone hacking saga.
Twitter will need a financial PR agency if it decides to undergo an IPO like Facebook has announced today. Someone will be needed to manage the relentless flow of media requests to interview its founders. Underexploited brand extension opportunities will need to be strategically communicated.
What if Twitter relied on its own product for its PR? Is it possible to inform, educate and influence mass audiences in 140 characters? Can you sustain a reputation through Twitter on a meaningful basis with your audiences?
I heard a story the other day about a certain notoriously lairy Manchester corporate finance ‘professional’ who tweeted something racist shortly after joining a new firm. He was promptly (and quite rightly) fired and frogmarched out of the building.
So, for him, and his bosses, there is enough space in 140 characters to influence the destruction of a career and reputation. But is there enough space in 140 characters to position a brand into something so insightful, so persuasive and so motivational that it leads to millions of people into positive (commercial or political) action?
The riots summer riots in Manchester and London were blamed on Twitter, BBM and Facebook. The emergence of democratic society in the Arab spring were powered by 140 characters according to most western media reports.
So that’s it then. Sack your PR company, stop buying newspapers and just post tweets on Twitter to enhance and sustain your reputation.
Thankfully, most people realise that Twitter is just another channel. It’s not the be all and end all of a 21st century PR campaign. It’s addictive for marketers (and PR agencies) because it’s supplies the instant gratification of observing your marketing messages being shared by ‘real people’.
A fully rounded integrated marketing campaign using all the touch points are always going to be more successful than putting all your eggs into one basket.