Tuesday, September 29, 2009

This Isn't a Twitter Problem

My beloved Jets find themselves in the middle of a social networking tempest, though frankly, it's of the teapot variety.

This week, Jets Wide Receiver David Clowney found himself benched after he vented his displeasure regarding his lack of playing time during the Jets victory over the New England Patriots.

He didn't do this in front of reporters in the locker room, he did it on Twitter, and that's what has the media all stirred up.

"1 play in the 1st Half, 4 plays in the 2nd half,.... A bit disappointed about my playing time but very happy and satisfied about the win," he wrote just after the game, following it up with "Just time to work harder for next week" and "My team always comes first so I'ma just keep grinding,.. And we gonna keep winning" right afterward.

But it's the first Tweet that annoyed Coach Rex Ryan, and rightfully so. As a coach or manager, you never want your team to be airing dirty laundry. That's just part of your overall communications issues within the organization.

But Twitter is just the tool. Yes, it makes it easier for this stuff to go public (Clowney tweeted from his mobile phone not long after the game ended) and it's up to Clowney, and anyone using Twitter, to be smart as to how they use it.

Basic media training is "don't say anything to a reporter that you don't want printed," the same rules now apply to social media. Don't put it out on Twitter or on Facebook or in your blog if you don't want it to be on everyone's lips immediately.

But this isn't a Twitter problem, despite that its gained huge media attention, it's a communications problem.

A few years ago I consulted with a company that allowed one of their employees to start a password protected blog for internal use only. One of their major concerns was that employees were cutting and pasting whole internal emails onto this blog and they worried what would happen if a client saw those emails.

"What's to stop an employee from forwarding those same emails, on purpose or accidentally, to the client?" I asked.

They had no answer, and after that we discussed their overall communications issues, not their blogging problem.

While I'm laying a lot of blame for this particular incident on Clowney, some may be on Rex Ryan and the Jets. I don't know if the team clearly laid out a communications policy as it also encouraged players to tweet. If it did, then Clowney violated that. If it didn't, then the communications folks still have work to do.

What is your communications policy?

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