Gail Sideman Publicity


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Twitter is like traditional news when it comes to stories that stick

I learned something valuable about Twitter this week and I shouldn’t be surprised.

I typically post about sports, public relations, the publishing industry (authors and books), world events when I think my two cents adds something or I feel strongly, and sometimes just fun things I see fly across my screen.

Like most of you reading this, I saw pictures and reaction to the 2019 College Football National Champion Clemson Tigers that visited the White House and were served fast-food 🍔🍕🍟 for dinner. Tongue-in-cheek, I posted a response to someone on my Twitter feed that it would be nice if the immediate past president of the United States invited the Tigers to his home for a do-over. My thought when I wrote it was that former President Obama, who celebrated men’s and women’s championship teams during his tenure at the White House, is a noted sports fan. His wife, Michelle, a supporter of the Fruits and Veggies Club, would likely veto fast-food even if her husband suggested it, and likely serve a healthier menu.

Before I hit “SEND” I considered that the post could be taken as funny, political or just another one of a zillion inconsequential comments made about the event. I know enough about our political climate to realize that responding to a political writer may be deemed that, but those few words generated more attention than it I thought it deserved — although there were some very kind comments. Nonetheless, I immediately thought of Santa Clause. (Please bear with me.)

In the several years I’ve worked as a publicist, some of the most funky stories have attracted reporters’ attention. Along with their editors, they’re understandably going to pay attention to things their audience reads or views — stories those people find informative, educational or entertaining.

Then there’s social media — a tool that communicates at the speed of a click. While some in PR have spoken about its differences, one tweet showed me it’s more like traditional media than I gave it credit for. I received more responses in 48 hours to a nonsense tweet than I have with what I considered “real” news, in months. Is that because our political climate is that noisy, or people thought it was an image they could relate to?

Public relations is not a predictable domain unless you suggest stories with puppies and little kids. (And I guess fast-food in the White House.) Like a long ago traditional media pitch I made about a couple that got engaged while visiting a mall Santa, this tweet attracted a slew of people I’ve never seen on my Twitter feed. It tends to follow the general rules of responsive public relations:

• Keep it short.

• Add a twinge of controversy.

• Piggyback on a current event.

I’m curious to know your thoughts. In the mean time, I’ll keep those Twitter responses in the back of my mind.


© Gail Sideman, 2019

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