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:
“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...”
“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.