5 Social Media Mistakes PR People Should Avoid


It wasn’t too long ago that Justin Sacco, former chief communications officer of IAC (parent company of Tinder, Vimeo and OkCupid), ruined a rather cushy gig thanks to one questionable attempt at humor on Twitter.

She apologized without much fanfare and then finally got a new job (much less cushy) this past June.

While her legacy will go down in the chronicles of PR as a case of “What not to do on social media,” it begs the question for the rest of us: “What should PR people not do on social media?” I have five ideas. Feel free to add to the conversation. Extra points for personal references.

And if someone knows Justine Sacco, tell her that she’s my inspiration. (#Tear)

i-hate-my-boss-button1. Don’t talk badly about work or your employer. We all have bad days. PR life — be it as an agency rat or an in-house desk jockey — can be slightly aggravating. My mama taught me the ’10-second rule’ when you need to maintain your cool but, thanks to social media, those 10 seconds don’t really exist. In a moment of angst and client misunderstanding, some PR pros tweet without thinking. The problem: if you are doing your job properly, journalists follow you and your team members may follow you — and an unfortunate note can cause people to very quickly unfollow you, your agency and even your clients. Just walk away and live to tweet and post another day.

facebook gossip2. Don’t forget your boundaries. Facebook has become the storehouse for everyone’s ego. People go there and share, share, share. There’s no thought, just the overflow of emotion when seeing a cute dog or a grumpy cat, annnnnd post. Then, the boundaries erode, you enjoy seeing more of yourself online, and you really begin oversharing. Salty language, general angst, political commentary, untoward remarks about your fellow employees — these are the signs of a stereotypical flack with no proper filter. Some things can be personal on your social media networks, but remember that these things are public (and clients/reporter friends may well be in the general vicinity).

twitter-timing-oops3. Don’t be lazy. Social media platforms, such as Hootsuite and Buffer, were created to help you keep it real on social media and keep it consistent with timed content. There’s only one very important thing to remember: Keep in mind what happens during the day. For example, tweeting a sports journalist’s thoughts about why Lebron James should stay with Miami right before the news of his move to Cleveland breaks. Scheduling is great, but you’ll need to stay awake for real-time content.

dumb boss4. Don’t drink and tweet. Remember how your PR director got on your nerves the other day? What about the hankering you heard from your client? Sure, it’s nice to cool off during a happy hour and share these irritations with colleagues, but don’t get ice cold on social media. Keep your job and just say ‘no.’ Resist the urge to let those alcoholic bubbles rise to the top of your mind and begin texting, tweeting, posting, or sharing selfies complete with an upstanding middle finger to a boss, client, or reporter. You have a reputation to protect, so try doing that by being less fun on social. Your job might last longer.

that guy5. Don’t be “that guy or gal.” If you believe your social media handles’ sole purpose is to plug, shill, and shamelessly promote your PR skills, your name-dropping lifestyle, and your clients’ brands, you would be wrong. Now, do that without engaging anyone, and you have just become that guy. Ever heard of the 80/20 rule? That formulaic equation is designed to help you not commit social media suicide. Make social media work for you by working with others on it.

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