A Slip Of The Tongue

As far as celebrity Twitters go, I embrace the idea of fans digitally “connecting” to a favorite singer or sports star. I even believe, in some situations, that a celebrity may have the emotional stability, poise and professionalism to manage their own brand. Some stars have been in the game long enough to realize what you type may be misread and what you mean may be misinterpreted. Social Media is tricky in its quickness; one slip of the tongue (or finger, in this case) may result in a media firestorm — a nightmare for agents, labels, publicists, and managers all over the world.

This is where we run into a problem.

The managers, publicists and agents are, more often than not, self-admittedly “too old” to know or care about Twitter accounts. They choose not to monitor tweets; some are still more concerned about what is being said above the fold on the front page of Sports or in a Gossip column on page D6. Wake up! Communication has changed…your clients have changed…times have changed…Public Relations has changed. The only thing left that needs to change is your attitude. If you refuse to monitor your clients’ social media empires, or at least prep accordingly, you are inevitably setting yourself, your firm, your label and your client up for an embarrassing and sloppy ordeal.

And with that, I transition into the Best and Worst Celebrity Tweeter for 2010. My opinions are based solely on the value of tweets, the ability to avoid conflict and the sincerity of the message.

WORST: Oh Chris, Chris, Chris (@ChrisBrown)…we can’t take you anywhere, can we? Why do you insist on being baited time and time again through Social Media altercations and “beefs?”  More importantly, why does your management insist on allowing you to maintain personal supervision of your social media domain? You’ve proven multiple times that you do not possess the maturity, let alone aptitude, to handle such a large brand image. As most of you probably know, Brown was baited yet again during a Twitter battle with former B2K singer, Raz B, last night. Raz B’s initial tweet said:

“Im just sittin here Thinking how can ni**as like @ebenet & @ChrisBrown disrespect women as Intelligent as @HalleBerry11@Rihanna

This simple tweet started a blaze of drama thanks to members of #TeamBreezy, who should’ve been reading books instead. Brown reacted the way any insulted, self-conscious, overweight girl would have:

“@razb2k ni**a you want attention! Grow up ni**a!!! D**k in da booty a** lil boy”

In all reality, Raz B’s approach was far from bad-mannered. There was no mention of domestic violence, no trace of a low blow. As I watched the argument continue, I was shocked when no one from management intervened in the immature battle of wits (or lack thereof). Brown continued to battle Raz B with homosexual slurs and obscenities. Backed against a wall, Raz B responded with several low blows, citing Brown as a #womenbeater (I think he meant #womAnbeater).  As of today, I was further taken aback when all Tweets remained posted (although the damage was already done).

Brown has confirmed, for what I think should be the final time, that he needs immediate supervision when dealing with internet affairs. He is the definition of Social Media Nightmare.

BEST: From rags to riches to prison to rags to riches, Michael Vick is, what some consider, the best comeback story in sports history. While you don’t have to agree with his past actions, as a PR professional, you cannot overlook his tweets. Best Tweeter for 2010 (surprisingly to people who know me, I’m sure) has to go to Eagles Quarterback, #7, (@MikeVick).

There is nothing more respectable than a notorious football player who has learned how to speak with media and represent himself professionally. Once a player who proudly displayed his middle fingers to Atlanta Falcons fans after a loss, Vick has (not so quickly) learned how to approach media and keep fans happy. Continually tweeting to a new band of followers, Vick genuinely enjoys connecting with his supporters while he and his team march forward toward playoff competition.  Certainly not a stranger to controversy, he has yet to engage in an internet scuffle with rabid reporters or non-supporters.

Even after a tough loss, Vick maintained his composure and tweeted:

“Understanding failure helps you appreciate success !”

Short, simple, sweet. No angry messages, no sore loser status. He didn’t bash teammates or coaches – in all, it is the perfect message to send followers after a loss that left a sour taste in the mouths of many fans.

While I certainly cannot condone the past four years, I have to respect the guy for realizing what separates boys from men, minor leagues from major leagues and any other overused phrase you can imagine.

Respectability and responsibility – that is all it takes.


Silence Isn’t Golden: The Story of Chris Brown’s PR

Last night was the 10th Annual BET Awards Ceremony, and let me tell you, I never thought I’d cry during that show.

Marking the one-year anniversary of the death of Michael Jackson, BET decided to gamble on a second tribute (since the first was a bust) and allow the infamous Chris Brown to perform. Last year, the ever-powerful Jay Z threatened to skip out on the awards show if Chris was even invited, resulting in a lackluster tribute to the King of Pop. I’m assuming the same thing happened this year since not only did Jay Z miss out, but Beyonce and Rihanna skipped out as well. Regardless of Jay Z’s disagreement with the tribute, Chris Brown’s performance was arguably the best performance of the night and is the best impersonation of Michael Jackson in recent years.

I have seen some (not much) backlash at Brown’s teary performance. I agree with some of the speculation. During the months following the incident involving Rihanna, silence surrounded Chris and his label (which I interned with this past spring). In the PR world, silence is not golden. Silence is questionable, suspicious and frowned upon. “No Comment” are the famous last words. As a Chris Brown supporter since he first broke into the scene around 2005, I was in shock with the handling of such a touchy and controversial incident. No apology…for months! Finally, when the apology did come on Larry King Live, he was decked out in a bow tie using words which I know he could not define, let alone spell. An educated audience could see right through the apology, and as a fan, I was terrified for his career. Slowly, venues started turning Brown away. Chris couldn’t GIVE tickets away. And at his label, there was conflict of how and when to release his next single.

But, nearly a year and five months after his assault of Hollywood’s starlet, Chris was given a second chance. He displayed raw emotion which fans and critics alike wished to see since Day 1. Unable to sing Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror,” the audience rose to its feet in support for Brown and the rebirth of his career. In the final moments of the show, Chris was awarded the AOL Fandemonium Award and finally said the words his fans had hoped he’d say months before; “I let you down before but I won’t do it again, I promise.” Spoken like a true 21-year old in the midst of a career crisis, no big words, no bow tie, no manipulation of his true feelings. Chris spoke directly to the audience and his fans, and in turn, it appears he may have more fans now than before the February 2009 assault.

If anything, this “Case Study” shows the ineffectiveness of a silent approach. Suspicions and animosity grew while Chris and Co. remained silent. Additionally, it proves to speechwriters and publicists alike that writing in the voice of your client is key; do not put words into your client’s mouth which he cannot spell! It leads to disaster. Let a client speak from the heart with some gentle guidance and it will go a long way.

Congratulations, Chris, on doing what your management would not allow in the first place. What do you think?