Bad Pee R: How not to tweet
It's a place for the whimsical, the mundane, the vitriol, and the brands.
Usually, you don't expect to see a tweet like the one that @amazonnews posted as a reply this week to dispel rumors that its employees are subject to cruel working conditions.
But Amazon News went there, used the facilities, and I suspect they'd like to wash their hands of it.
I cannot even imagine how anyone thought this was a good idea.
A tweet denying that the company's employees have to relieve themselves in bottles.
A tweet that has been quoted/retweeted 16 thousand times since it went up.
A tweet that has been ridiculed and used to suggest that conditions are much, much worse.
That kind of attention makes this more than a wee miscalculation.
Now that I've gotten a couple of puns out of my system, let's look at the key takeaways of this debacle.
For one, if you are in denial mode in any communications effort, you have some serious trouble.
You never want to be in that position.
Because when tell people that something did not happen,' they are likely to believe it did.
Like, you know, someone who says 'I did not have sexual relations with that woman.'
A denial invites speculation, attention, inquiries, and generally makes a story much, much bigger than you'd like it to be.
More negative too.
And if you are in denial mode, it helps if it is grounded in truth.
Because there is a 'leaked' (high five to the Guardian's editor) memo that confirms that Amazon is aware that delivery drivers are using bottles and more when nature calls.
Now, the global editor-in-chief of Business Week tweeted that Amazon's excuse--that these are contracted workers, not employees--is not exactly helping.
And he's right, because it suggests Amazon holds them in less regard than their staff while still implying that Amazon staff may not have it all that much better.
All this is unfolding amid a concerted PR effort by Amazon to thwart a union drive at its Bessemer, Alabama, warehouse.
I can't begin to imagine the outcome of this, but the Amazon News tweet only raises more questions and encourages more scrutiny of how the company operates.
Which is why, when you have to engage in communications on an issue like this, you want to ensure that any statements you write or publicize are not only grounded in truth but do not encourage your customers or audience to think about the ethics of interacting with you.
Because once the proverbial genie is out of the bottle, it's hard to get it back in.