This week, co-host Sarah Wurrey joins Jen Zingsheim to discuss Twitter’s slide, publicists trying to contain their celebrities who now have access to social media with no filter, and Dilbert creator Scott Adam’s PR troubles–an examination of meltdowns in triplicate.
This week’s show is 28 minutes in length.
- First, Jen and Sarah discuss a spate of articles lately, pointing out that Twitter’s star might be fading. Two posts, one by Kami Huyse and the other by Jay Baer, discuss recent studies that show Twitter is a niche network that perhaps isn’t as pervasive as it seems to be on the surface. Baer’s post points out that there are twice as many current MySpace users than Twitter users. Kami’s post notes that there has been a change in the way Twitter is used–“back in the day” (you know, way back in ’06-’07), Twitter was conversational, now, Jen and Sarah agree, it’s more used to distribute and consume information than converse. Sarah points out this change could be attributed to the influx of celebrities, whose use of the network is more marketing than conversational. Jen asks how the drumbeat of critical commentary might affect Twitter: from articles about instability at Twitter, to the BlogHer study, to the revelation that only 8 percent of Americans use Twitter (not to mention that apparently, active Twitter users have shorter relationships), it seems the news about Twitter is all bad these days. Will people abandon it and run to the next shiny new thing?
- Next, the two discuss the ever-expanding job description of the celebrity publicist. Once charged with obtaining positive coverage for clients, this group now finds itself saddled with the additional responsibilities of crisis communications and damage control as their charges share everything on social networks, with no filter. As fun as the topic is from a celebrity perspective to examine the role of the “suppress agent” the direct line between the famous and infamous and the general public is now a direct one, which can give any publicity agent heartburn. Jen points out this isn’t confined to celebrities–communications departments face the same challenge with CEOs, or anyone connected with a high-profile company. The two also note that this highly visible field of damage control gets lumped in with PR–which has long faced a problem of being identified solely as media relations. The headline-grabbing component of this makes it unlikely that PR will be able to shake that definition anytime soon, unfortunately.
- Finally, in keeping with the bad PR of the famous-theme, the two discuss the problems surrounding Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert. Adams recently penned an article for the Wall Street Journal, which made a rather unflattering statement about women–which was enough to get him into hot PR water. Adams, apparently not content with that, decided he preferred even hotter water, as he was soon found to be posting comments supporting, well, himself, using an anonymous Internet handle. Jen wonders why people continue to attempt this, when the high-profile ones always seem to be uncloaked. Sarah points out that it’s human to want to defend yourself in the face of intense criticism, this is just an inelegant way to do so.