In a recent post on PR Daily, Brad Phillips discussed last week’s debate between Republican Senate candidate Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning and his opponent, state Treasurer Don Stenberg. Though all debates can be quite colorful, this particular one begged the question: is it appropriate to follow your competitor’s daughter on Twitter?
The commentary of this particular part of the debate went as follows:
Bruning: “Let me ask you this, Don. This Sunday, my daughter walks in, and says, ‘Don Stenberg’s trying to follow me on Twitter.’ My daughter’s 14-years-old. Now you tell me: I’d like to know, why does a 62-year-old man want to follow a 14-year-old girl on Twitter? I’d really like to know. She said, ‘Dad, that’s kind of creepy.’”
Stenberg: “Quite honestly, I don’t do my own Twitter. Dan Parsons does it for me. We’ve got thousands and thousands of folks, and as soon as we get done here, I’ll call Dan and make sure that’s taken off. I don’t think it’s appropriate.”
Phillips post discusses the fact that Stenberg’s verbal response seemed OK, yet his body language forced him to lose control of the situation. Though as a debate tactic Stenberg could have turned the situation around on his opponent, Phillips states that because Stenberg didn’t, he also lacked full confidence. As a media relations lesson, this one is important, but I also feel that this awkward situation also brings up a few very other important points:
- Know the medium—and well. Neither candidate seems familiar enough with Twitter to be accusing or defending the use of it based on their commentary. If you’re going to go for the low blow, at least understand that with the use of handles, and the fact that most of Twitter is “open game,” it can be impossible to know the age or real name of someone who follows you (or that you follow).
- Be aware that if someone is tweeting on behalf of your name, they better be representing you well. Stenberg immediately disputes Bruning’s acquisition by stating, “Quite honestly, I don’t do my own Twitter. Dan Parsons does it for me.” Though he’s telling the truth, this still is a poor defense. If it’s under his name, he is ultimately responsible for the content that is tweeted from that handle.
If you were part of Stenberg’s campaign team, what advice would you give him on the use of social media? What changes (if any) do you think he need to make regarding his presence on Twitter?