We live in an increasingly litigious society, so I am not going to name the individual in question who sent the Tweet I’m referring to. Let’s just say it relates to a publicly aired disagreement over how the boys in Thailand were rescued after flood waters trapped them in an underground cave.
My take on this situation is about the responsibility that people in the public eye should take in terms of setting a good example to society when they communicate. I believe that if you are a public figure, whether due to fame, fortune, or world-changing ideas and innovations, there are some rules that come with that.
One of these rules should be an appreciation that people will look up to you and want to be led by you. As such you have a moral responsibility and duty to society to act with dignity and set a good example. What you say matters just as much as what you do.
That was sadly lacking in this case. Of course, the subject matter of the Tweet was labelled a PR stunt – who knows whether it was or not, or whether the person in question genuinely thought that they could help. Either way, the experts were busy dealing with a life and death situation and any communication around the subject should be appropriate and respectful.
This incident highlights a broader issue that some people in positions of authority today are using communication channels such as social media to speak much more freely than they would have in the past. It’s becoming more like a public train of private thoughts. Even some world leaders are at it!
For me the moral of the story is that all forms of communication are public and they should not be treated the same as private thoughts (which we’re all entitled to). We all get annoyed when things don’t go our way – but we should exercise tact and diplomacy!
In B2B PR we help businesses present themselves in a correct and positive light. Although we’re often criticised as an industry, I can’t think of many PR people who would advise their CEO to go on Twitter for a rant. Consider, would the same have been said to the recipient’s face or in a media interview?
Perhaps the wider lessons to be learned are that, no matter how ‘big’ someone or something is, history has shown us that even the mightiest can fall, and sometimes it only takes a few wrong words to make that happen. Additionally, to reiterate my initial point, there should be a moral code that comes with positions of power. You might be able to solve the world’s carbon emissions or get us to Mars, but will people actually trust you if you say the wrong thing?