Public Relations Idiocy Hits Twitter...Again

As if the NHL playoffs didn’t provide enough excitement for the hockey world, another Twitter faux pas has caused the hockey world to erupt. Many that spend time on the social networking site and follow hockey writers/bloggers/players will easily recall the Dan Ellis meltdown of last year. Ellis’ complaints about his financial situation were a ticking time bomb that eventually led to the goalie leaving the ‘twittersphere’.

Uptown Sports Management (referred to as ‘Uptown Hockey’ on Twitter) is the culprit this time around, and their mistake goes beyond the ridiculous. After Sean Avery supported the right for homosexuals to marry, the agency tweeted what follows:

“Very sad to read Sean Avery's misguided support of same-gender "marriage". Legal or not, it will always be wrong.”

Next, this:

“To clarify. This is not hatred or bigotry towards gays. It is not intolerance in any way shape or form. I believe we are all equal...”

And, finally:

“But I believe in the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman. This is my personal viewpoint. I Do not hate anyone.”

Obviously, the matter of same-sex marriage can be a touchy subject in the United States, and this post will not be doing the touching. Rather, it seems necessary to address the true idiocy in this most recent hiccup.

First, it’s pretty befuddling that sports agency account would tweet something as bold as what was tweeted. When a company has an explicit job of working public relations for the people they represent, it’s probably best to stay on the neutral side of things. The most controversial thing they should say is something along the lines of, “Oh, we aren’t sure if that was a goal or a kicking motion!” Quite frankly, it’s just good business sense.

This case very clearly harkens back to the Ellis uproar because it leaves the majority of people scratching their heads. Twitter is a spring-loaded bear trap, and for the poor sap that decides to try to eat the T-bone chew toy that everyone else knows is a chew toy, they pay for it dearly. Uptown and Ellis went for the bait. It’s not a matter of what they believe, it’s a matter of common sense. Did they really think it was a good idea to address homosexual marriage and feeling trapped financially as a professional athlete? Really?

Next, it’s not difficult to envision clients like Mike Fisher or Cody McCormick upset at the umbrella that Uptown has thrown over them. Really, those athletes are put in a terrible position because of a tweet from the people that represent them. Now, all eyes are on the athletes to see what they may do after the controversy. If Fisher decides to stay with Uptown Hockey because he likes his agent, does that mean that he’s supporting their openly anti-gay marriage stance? It probably doesn’t, but it absolutely means that people will assume that.

And here they thought an agent was supposed to make things easier.


Uptown Hockey represents Mike Fisher

Also, one point that can’t be left on the wayside is that Twitter is a powerful tool. For those that are familiar with it, that becomes evident quickly. This story will spread on Twitter, and it will gain more readers than it would without social media. That’s a fact. It happens with everything and it’s the upside of viral marketing. Use social media well and win big.

Use it poorly, and lose much bigger.

Both cases that have been pinpointed are the perfect illustration of destruction due to poor social media decisions. The hashtag, #DanEllisProblems is still used today, and it will be in the foreseeable future all due to a couple of tweets from an account with a large legion of followers. That’s the name of the game, and Monday’s blow up on the Uptown Hockey account won’t be forgotten anytime soon either.

And there’s no use in pleading ignorance because the very reason they established accounts was to speak to a demographic. Both are out there promoting themselves or the athletes they represent by connecting with fans on Twitter. That’s a terrific idea because it’s free marketing and no one can really complain about free marketing. But, if the intent in using the tool is to promote to vast amounts of people, it seems ridiculously stupid to wonder why vast amounts of people are upset when you overstep a social boundary.

Therein lays the prevailing theme of these idiotic examples. If an athlete or company wants to appeal to the biggest market of people that they can, it makes no sense to come close to a boundary that shouldn’t be toed. Neutrality is essential to appealing to the masses, and while that may not sound all that great, it’s the bottom-line truth for most. Public relations are vital to the modern-age athlete, and for Ellis and Uptown Hockey, they have fallen on their swords.

When all is said and done, perhaps the two parties are extremely satisfied with their ability to state their opinions. If alienating fans, clients and misusing valuable PR tools is worth stating where one stands on a controversial issue, then perhaps that says all there is to say.

Or maybe, it speaks much larger volumes about where they stood in the first place.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter or email me at mtrible@thecheckingline.com . Or, just browse over to http://www.flyerscornerradio.com to hear me talk Flyers hockey.

2 Comments

George Prax's picture

Awesome blog Mark. Here's the thing. Who ever's tweeting behind that account has the right to believe whatever he wants, and some would argue that he makes some good arguments for that issue. But as an official representative for a company that, like you said, manages hockey players and deals in public relations, it's pretty idiotic to bring them up and frankly there's literally no reason why he would have done so. It boggles the mind that people would actually write these things out. I have non-hockey opinions that would likely piss some people off, and yes they sometimes make their way onto twitter but I know how to use the damn thing and while I represent TCL it's an opinion blog, not a company meant to make profit and that has an important public profile.

This guy is a bonehead and I wouldn't be surprised if someone like Fisher, who has an even higher profile because of his wife, ends up leaving.

Chuck Gaston Jr's picture

Everyone has an opinion, but this is not their place to make such remarks. Personal beliefs, such as religion or marriage preference, should not be placed on twitter by companies. Put that on your personal account, but leave it off your corps. twitter page. After all that has happened on twitter with these morons posting whatever they beleive you would think someone would say just get rid of it. I have a twitter account and barely use it for my own personal thoughts.
Sean has every right to do what he pleases in his free time. If his agents don't like it, drop him. There is no reason to post such remarks. There is a time and place for things like this and personally I think twitter has no place for such remarks, and that goes double for a business. Its unproffessional.