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Don't be a Twit-Wit. Avoid Being Fired For Your Tweets


By Kipper McGee
Don't Be A Twit-Wit

As recently reported by Radio Ink, Chad Scott believes he was terminated by Dickey Broadcasting in Atlanta for tweeting about his unsatisfactory experience with Delta Airlines. And he is not alone. Comedian Gilbert Gottfried was released by insurance giant AFLAC after tweeting some insensitive Twitter "quacks" about the victims of the Japan tsunami. CNN's Octavia Nasr and MSNBC's David Shuster were also casualties of controversial tweets. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was fined $25,000 by the NBA for tweeting his disappointment with officials during a game against the Denver Nuggets. Even the NFL has thrown a $250,000 penalty against Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco for tweeting during a game.

The phenomenon isn't limited to media and celebrities. More and more people are being disciplined or outright fired for their micro-messaging. Nurses, teachers, and laborers are not immune to "tweeting their minds" in ways that are critical of superiors or co-workers, or about personal matters not connected to work. According to the Daily Beast, waitress Jon-Barret Ingels was fired from a Hollywood restaurant after tweeting about the dining (and tipping!) habits of her show biz customers.

For better or worse, social media has become a part of our lives and a viable distribution platform for your personal brand. Starting with early incarnations like AOL Chat, through MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter, the world -- and your listeners -- have taken to communicating 140 characters at a time.

A study by estimated that Facebook will soon exceed 143 million users worldwide. (That's more than one of every 12 people on earth!) According to Click Z, Twitter has gained 40 million users and there's been a 62 percent increase in mobile use of the platform since April 2010.

While social media can and should be a tremendous tool for marketing your personal and station brands, there are some guidelines for every individual to understand. You may feel you have a First Amendment right to free speech. Well, you do. But with rights come responsibilities, and in this era of total transparency, that can mean consequences.

So what ARE the rules for "Media Twitterquette"?

1. We are in the age of transparency. Always assume anything you send digitally (including e-mails) can and WILL be read by someone other than the intended recipients. Remember that virtually ANYONE can access your posts and tweets, particularly with developing functionality for searches and mention-tracking. E-mails are easily forwarded, and were among the first "viral media." If you don't want to see it on the news, think before you ping.
2. Make sure anything you put out to the public matches your personal brand and does not conflict with the goals or values of other brands you may represent. This includes your station(s), advertisers, and even businesses that may not be currently advertising. If your personal brand is about finding fault with other individuals, products, and services, don't be surprised if you get some blowback from time to time.
3. Remember W.I.I.F.M.: Any time you post or tweet any information, keep in mind those you are targeting and implement the "What's In It For Me?" -- that is, for the consumer -- test. The most successful broadcast social networkers offer a balance of information, insights, tune-in alerts (contests, guests, etc), and humorous insights.

1. Don't use any public media (airwaves, Web, etc.) for personal grudges (unless this IS your personal brand, and your station is firmly behind you). You may think critical or snarky comments are just going to your "friends." Nothing could be further from the truth.
2. Don't forget the rules of spam. Resist the temptation to "over-post." Even your most loyal fans, friends, and P1's can reach a point of saturation. Remember those lame jokes everyone used to forward incessantly? You don't want to be "that person" on social media. Be careful "sharing" or "re-tweeting" too much, or passing along "TMI" (too much information).
3. When in doubt, see DO No. 3, above.

And here are a few more from Daniel Anstandig, Co-Founder of
- Remember that Twitter is an Open Mic. Don't say anything that you wouldn't feel comfortable saying on the air or at a remote in front of your listeners, coworkers, managers, and friends.
- Don't use Twitter to be passive aggressive about your coworkers or boss. I've seen people tweet about their Program Director or General Manager in a cryptic way. It only makes you look petty and immature—especially when your future employers go back and read all the tweets you've posted in the past.
- Use the Open Mic of Twitter wisely. Using it to say "THANK YOU" to a coworker, friend, or boss or share a compliment about a positive experience you had with a local business will always come back around positively for you. What goes around comes around on Twitter.

Is it fair that everything you post is subject to such scrutiny? Perhaps not. But it is reality, particularly if you've chosen to have a public or professional persona. Social media can enhance your on-air presence, but it also reflects your brand and the brand of those for whom you work.

Kipper McKee is a frequent speaker/panelist/presenter at national broadcast conventions including numerous state, group and corporate meetings. He has been named one of Radio Ink's Top Programmers, and has received the Conclave's Rockwell Award for lifetime achievement. Kipper can be reached at 312-402-4667 or


(10/23/2013 11:42:35 AM)
WdnwpY Say, you got a nice post.Much thanks again. Really Great.

- NY
(3/18/2011 8:56:22 PM)
The big mistake people make about "free speech" and the First Amendment is that the First Amendment only regulates what the government can do.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Note that there's nothing in there about private entities. In fact, regulating the conduct of private entities would be completely contrary to the spirit, if not the letter, of the Amendment.

- Steve

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