In many ways, Twitter is a corporate god-send, especially for flaks who don’t much like talking to hacks (I don’t blame you really).
As Donald Trump has proved, it’s a brilliant way of getting around pesky journalists — irritating fact checkers that we try to be — and communicating direct to your audience.
It breaks down somewhat when you have a disaster. Say, you’re a water company that suddenly can’t supply any water.
At which point, your corporate Twitter feed stops being a handy way to communicate the great news about how nice you are.
Thames Water is rightly getting it in the neck (and the teeth) for its present failures, and I’m not sure the social media PR is doing it any favours.
One flak who worked on the privatisation of Thames Water, of which he now claims to be ashamed, offers this assessment:
“They have disastrously failed via social media.
They send vacuous tweets saying we are too busy to reply to your tweets and then saying ‘our teams are working round the clock to keep London’s water running’. There is no fing water running and there hasn’t been for 24 hours.”
I’m not saying there was an easy solution to this PR problem. But Twitter definitely wasn’t it.