Diggin’ up the Dirt

dirty-shovelAs part of this blog assignment for my Advanced PR Writing class, I will write one post each week in response to a link that my professor (Kelli Matthews) posts on her blog, PRos in Training. I’m going to respond to Peter Shankman’s blog post “Be Careful What You Post.”

Shankman’s post points out one huge caveat in the world of social media: What you write online is public and accessible to everyone. One particular situation involved the social networking site Twitter and Ketchum PR account executive/vice president, James Andrews. Andrews flew to Memphis to visit FedEx, one of Ketchum’s biggest clients, to make a presentation on social media. While in Memphis, he made this update on his personal Twitter account:

True confession but I’m in one of those towns where I scratch my head and say, ‘I would die if I had to live here.’”

It wasn’t long before this post spread like wildfire. People at FedEx were extremely offended, and it sent Ketchum and Andrews into a PR tizzy. Now, all seems quiet on the Twitter/Ketchum/FedEx front, but it taught social media users an important lesson: Be careful when posting online.

Since the moment I created my Facebook profile, my parents have lightly warned, “You better be careful with that stuff. No one from your generation will be able to run for public office. There is no privacy anymore. What you post online will come back to haunt you.”

While I agree with this to some extent, I also realize the positive opportunities that come with using social media. They allow endless opportunities to network, keep in touch with friends and stay informed.

In life, we strive to put our best foot forward everyday. We want people to see the best version of ourselves. I think the same can be true for our “online” selves. Whether this means “de-tagging” that unflattering picture of you taking a keg stand, or being mindful of your audience when updating your “status” on Facebook or Twitter, it is important to realize that people, other than friends and family are looking at what you post.

From a PR standpoint, the internet is perhaps one of the greatest tools. It allows PR practitioners to communicate, collaborate and influence on a limitless level. For me, the world of social media is exciting and a bit daunting. My goal for this blog experiment is to be honest and transparent. And careful. What goes online stays online, whether we like it or not.


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