You would think that, if you’re in the business of communication, you might be more careful about what you post on social media. Week after week, though, we see that isn’t always the case.
Now, yet another high-profile professional communicator has lost their job over comments they posted on social media. Fox News recently announced the network has fired contributor Kevin Jackson in response to controversial tweets about Brett Kavanaugh’s accusers.
Speaking about Kavanaugh’s accusers, Jackson tweeted, “TO HELL with the notion that women must be believed no matter what.”
As is generally the case in these situations, the response was immediate, and it was primarily condemning of the comments. As responses poured in excoriating Jackson for implying that people should not take reports of sexual abuse seriously, Fox News released a statement:
"Kevin Jackson has been terminated as a contributor. His comments on today's hearings were reprehensible and do not reflect the values of Fox News."
The statement seems to reinforce Fox News’ position about the hearings. The network’s news anchors indicated that they believed Christine Blasey Ford was credible, even as they said Kavanaugh was also persuasive. Meanwhile, Fox’s opinion commentators openly supported Kavanaugh, while tacitly doubting the allegations against him. But no one came out and indicated that women should not be taken seriously when they make accusations. While that may have not been Jackson’s intent, that was the message most took from his comments.
This case, once again, highlights the double-edge sword that is Twitter, more than any other social media platform. Where all social media options offer access to a massive audience, Twitter seems to incentivize being controversial, or at least terse, in your statements. That invites people to lean over a line they may not otherwise cross.
This dynamic has proven to lead, over and over again, to people who really should know better, torpedoing their careers in an attempt either to be provocative or to make a joke and generate “likes.”
Owning a Public Relations firm, we see the benefit of social media, with its direct access to a market base and immediate interaction opportunities. This can be great for brands but it can also be unbelievably toxic. Even seasoned communications professionals have misjudged exactly where the line between “controversial” and career suicide is when it comes to Twitter.
So, here we are again, warning that Twitter can be a great boost for a brand, but it can also be problematic if used without a plan and without consideration for the real-world consequences of your tweets.
Ronn Torossian is one of America’s foremost Public Relations executives as founder/CEO of 5WPR, a leading independent public relations Agency. The firm was honored as PR Firm of the Year by The American Business Awards, and has been named to the Inc. 500 List. Torossian is author of the best-selling "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations." For more of Ronn Torossian's reports, Go Here Now.
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