In cyberspace everyone can hear you tweet

Rogue tweets. We’ve all been there. Whether it’s a frustration induced heat of the moment tweet or an ill advised update after one too many adult beverages, the world of social media is peppered with life commentary that after the passage of time seems, well, regrettable.

Thankfully, most of it gets buried within the fog of the web, destined to be forgotten and not to impinge on the everyday course of the real world. And as such it’s easy to forget that actually, when you drop the update bomb, the whole world can see what you’re thinking.

And that includes clients.

So for all of you who have got away with an ill-advised tweet or status update, spare a thought for twitter user keyinfluencer, aka PR firm Ketchum VP James Andrews, who, upon visiting Memphis to meet with client FedEx, commented:

True confession but I’m in one of those towns where I scratch my head and say “I would die if I had to live here!

Fail.

What the “globally influencial” (his words – see his twitter bio) business traveller didn’t take into account was that his Memphian client was (a) using twitter and (b) loved Memphis more than Elvis himself. What follows is the FedEx response, in all of it’s cringe-inducing glory. Oh, and the entire FedEx comms department, the corporate Vice President and the entire Ketchum board was allegedly cc’d on this note.

Mr. Andrews,

If I interpret your post correctly, these are your comments about Memphis a few hours after arriving in the global headquarters city of one of your key and lucrative clients, and the home of arguably one of the most important entrepreneurs in the history of business, FedEx founder Fred Smith.

Many of my peers and I feel this is inappropriate. We do not know the total millions of dollars FedEx Corporation pays Ketchum annually for the valuable and important work your company does for us around the globe. We are confident however, it is enough to expect a greater level of respect and awareness from someone in your position as a vice president at a major global player in your industry. A hazard of social networking is people will read what you write.

Not knowing exactly what prompted your comments, I will admit the area around our airport is a bit of an eyesore, not without crime, prostitution, commercial decay, and a few potholes. But there is a major political, community, religious, and business effort underway, that includes FedEx, to transform that area. We’re hopeful that over time, our city will have a better “face” to present to visitors.

James, everyone participating in today’s event, including those in the auditorium with you this morning, just received their first paycheck of 2009 containing a 5% pay cut… which we wholeheartedly support because it continued the tradition established by Mr. Smith of doing whatever it takes to protect jobs.

Considering that we just entered the second year of a U.S. recession, and we are experiencing significant business loss due to the global economic downturn, many of my peers and I question the expense of paying Ketchum to produce the video open for today’s event; work that could have been achieved by internal, award-winning professionals with decades of experience in television production.

Additionally Mr. Andrews, with all due respect, to continue the context of your post; true confession: many of my peers and I don’t see much relevance between your presentation this morning and the work we do in Employee Communications.

Oh deary me.

Read his response here. Fair play to him for the open response – and he hasn’t deleted the offending tweet either.

Props to Peter Shankman for the original scoop.

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6 Responses to “In cyberspace everyone can hear you tweet”

  1. lenisebrothers Says:

    Reading the FedEx response and then reading James’ response to it is just cringe worthy. A throwaway tweet blown taken out of context and totally out of proportion.

  2. Charles Frith Says:

    Fed Ex are wrong. If you want to own your agencies mind then you don’t understand how the communications business works.

    If Fed Ex succeeded in bullying this guy then the real victim is subjective truth. Or freedom of speech.

    Fed Ex have obviously left it waaay to long to put their heart into improving Memphis. Looks like they take cosmetic repair very seriously.

  3. simonjoeyrobertson Says:

    James Andrews has obviously failed to visit either the Blues City cafe or Charlie Vergos’s Rendezvous bar, purveryours of the finest wet and dry barbecue on the planet.

    Freedom of speech doesn’t necessaril equate (as with any freedom) with freedom from responsibility, in my opinion. If someone is so lax as to be incapable of controlling the way the present themselves in a public forum, why should they be trusted with a multi-million dollar communications budget? I believe this is often referred to as “Unutterable Doofus Correlation Theory”.

  4. simonjoeyrobertson Says:

    Sorry, for “of responsibility” there, read “from consequences”. Speaking of doofuses….

  5. Charles Frith Says:

    @simonjoeyrobertson

    If everything is so splendid in in Memphis, why do Fedex feel there community based work is important to talk about. A bar and a restaurant do not make a city. I can show you that in Rangoon or any other of the places with the darkest slums I’ve taken time out to visit.

    However speech and responsibility; I agree. It’s just dumb to slag off a client’s city. He’s paid the price. But his client comes across as a bit of a twat too.

  6. simonjoeyrobertson Says:

    @charles frith.
    Depends how much you like barbecue, I guess.

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