by Dan Ward
Like many PR people, I’ve been monitoring reaction to the @DiGiorno Twitter debacle, in which the person behind the company’s Twitter account made a joke using the #WhyIStayed hashtag without realizing that tag was being used to discuss stories of domestic violence.
Beyond providing a lesson on the need to think before you tweet, as well as the benefits of a sincere apology, the story has shown once again how anonymous message boards are, as Roger Pynn has pointed out, the sewer of the Internet.
Check this comment from “guest” to a PR Daily story: “PR people have to clean up after clueless and ignorant social media staffers who don’t read and think before they comment … if this guy worked for me, he’d be gone. No second chances.”
So not only does the anonymous “guest” make the assumption that the poster was some ignorant staffer with no PR background, he advocates the always successful “no failure” business policy. So, unlike the MythBusters team, those who work for him know that failure is never an option. I’m sure that leadership style makes his team eager to take risks and try new things.
Then there’s this comment from “Anonymous:” “The premise that apologies are required is a fallacy of the young and inexperienced and naïve. What is required is corrective action … firing the person responsible and announcing that.”
I’m neither young, nor inexperienced, nor (I hope) naïve, but I happen to believe quite strongly that apologies ARE required when you screw up. When you make a mistake, say so, apologize for it and then take corrective action.
But is dismissal really the appropriate corrective action in this case? The poster realized his mistake almost immediately, apologized profusely to all followers, then apologized over and over again to everyone who rightfully called his post stupid, idiotic, moronic and every other word that means just plain dumb.
We’re not in the habit of firing people for making mistakes. If so, I’d have fired myself a thousand times over the last 20+ years. This was by all means a whopper of a mistake, one that was easily avoidable. But it wasn’t willful. It should be an experience from which the poster hopefully will learn, rather than a mistake from which his career will never recover.