Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What’s the Tweet on the Street? How Twitter Spreads News Like Wild Fire


When was the last time you actually turned on your TV for late-breaking news? It’s probably been awhile. So it shouldn’t be surprising that Twitter blasts out breaking news hours before the news stations get wind of it.

Between popular celebrity tweets and winter storm updates, Twitter makes it very easy to find out what’s happening in the world – especially when it comes to groundbreaking news.

Most people seem to love Twitter or hate it, but even more people seem to be unaware of its vast publicity potential – especially if you have a newsworthy message you need to spread quickly (and you don’t have time to write and send a press release).

When a 7.8 earthquake struck China in 2008 - less than three months before the Olympic Games began - people updated on Twitter faster than the official news channels could keep up.

Some companies have already taken full advantage of Twitter’s publicity power. As I mentioned in a previous post, KFC awarded a $20,000 scholarship to high school student based on a SINGLE tweet. The chicken-chowing corporation generated newsworthy press for itself in mere seconds with their philanthropic venture.

At its longest, a tweet is 160 characters - just enough words to get your message across without rambling for days and accidentally mentioning your cat family. Less is more when it comes to Twitter, and sometimes that’s a good thing when it comes to promoting your company’s brand.

However, don’t be like the PR executive who publicly lambasted his client, FED EX, via Twitter. As a result, he lost FED EX as their client, and was fired for his insulting tweet. From a publicity standpoint, be very careful of what you tweet.  Twitter spreads news like wild fire, and you could be one tweet away from ruining your company’s reputation.

Even Heathrow Airport has jumped on the news bandwagon with their latest tweets - an effective way keep travelers updated on current storm conditions and closures. 

In 2006, the first post in Twitter history was “just setting up my twttr” by Jack Stone, one of Twitter’s co-founders. If you haven’t started using Twitter, you might want to reconsider. Maybe 2011 will be your time to shine in Twitter history.

Jack Stone may not have set the bar very high with his first Twitter post, but that doesn’t mean your first post can’t be memorable – and newsworthy!

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Therese Pope, Copywriter/Content Developer & Digital Buzz-icist

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