Earlier today I was involved in a Twitter fight which was captured in a few places, including here (mediastyle.ca) and here (Torontoist) and here (Valleywag.  My version of the events is described in the post – Unhappy Customers Complain.  The apology from the National Post is here.

I think I’ve said everything I can on either Twitter or the mediastyle.ca post on what he said/she said so I will let the who was right and wrong discussion take place over there (and frankly, it’s all so like, 2 hours ago).  What it did get me thinking about is what lessons we can learn from all of this.

Here are a few:

  • Be nice because power is shifting – Social media advocates have been saying this for ages but it’s still news for some folks.  Newspaper reporters can no longer afford to treat the marketing and PR folks in their ecosystem badly any more than the marketing and PR folks can treat them badly in return.  We all have to figure out a way to play nice.
  • Don’t forget there are people behind that text – David was clearly having a bad day but so what?  He’s about to change jobs and move to a different country and he’s got deadlines and stress.  Does that give him the right to be a jerk? Of course not!  He crossed a line and he can’t expect me to not talk about that.  Should he lose his job or even have this be a subject of conversation a week from now?  No way!  I too have been known to drop the f-bomb in mixed company (ok, maybe not so publicly, over and over again, but still).  We all lose our cool sometimes and the next time I lose mine I certainly hope everyone remembers that I’m human and entitled to have a bad day once and a while.
  • Apologize and move on already – Sure this stuff comes up and spreads around quickly, but an apology would have too.  David could have just posted a Tweet to say – “oops, sorry, one too many cocktails over lunch” (ok, maybe not exactly that but you get the idea) and we would have all gone back to talking about our macbooks.
  • Being deeply involved in Social Media has bizarre risks you never dreamed of but it’s OK! – Get in a fight on Twitter and the next thing you know you’re “dumb”, “unprofessional”, a “Flack” and (gasp!) “a PR person” (Sheesh!  Call me what you want but I don’t do PR man!), along with literally a kazillion direct messages, emails and Twitter replies telling me I’m the calmest person ever.  Does any of it matter?  Nah, not really.  I don’t do PR, I’m not all that calm and a week from now we will be talking about Steve Jobs or whatever.  Does anyone remember the @astrospace meltdown? I didn’t think so.

OK, that’s it, the dead horse has been beaten.  Move along folks, nothing to see here.