When Twitter turns bitter

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Microsoft has found itself in the middle of a Twitter furore today as it was forced to backpedal following a tweet sent out from its @Tweetbox360 account. The company tweeted: “Remember Amy Winehouse by downloading the ground-breaking ‘Back to Black’ over at Zune”. The Microsoft PR team behind the Twitter account has sent out an apology claiming that this wasn’t commercially motivated after it received a barrage of complaints.

How can they possibly say that it wasn’t commercially motivated? It’s no different to standing outside a shop, wearing a huge sandwich board marked up with arrows, while shouting “this way to spend your money with us”! It’s difficult to see how communications professionals could have misjudged the mood of their audience so very badly.

Don’t get me wrong, one aspect of our job as PR consultants is to piggyback on the news to the advantage of our clients. The key is that this shouldn’t be at any cost.

Twitter should be used as a tool to communicate a brand’s personality, its values and to build up rapport with stakeholders. Album sales will inevitably go up anyway and people love Twitter because you can avoid being subject to overt and crude marketing. Given the tragic events over the past few days, this showed an absolute lack of sensitivity about what’s going on in the world.