You’re a public relations professional or agency. How are you monitoring your brand and those of your clients?

You are actually monitoring, right?

I ask on the back of an interesting story regarding Michigan-based PR firm Tanner Friedman and their current lawsuit regarding a fake Twitter account.

Back in January this year, an account was set up on Twitter that used the name @TannerFriedman. For anyone seeing the tweets from the account, you might expect them to be the latest company or client news from the PR firm.

Not so.

The account had nothing to do with Tanner Friedman. Instead, it was set up by someone who then went on to post a defamatory tweet as the account’s introduction to Twitter, and then subsequently posted negative tweets about the firm.

To keep things interesting, though, the account also took tweets from the Twitter accounts of actual Tanner Friedman employees to make it look more authentic.

Jump forward to March 27, when Tanner Friedman complained to Twitter about the fake account.

That’s more than two months later.

Despite the fake Twitter account posting about the company. Despite the fact that the tweets are said to be damaging and embarrassing to Tanner Friedman. Despite the company being active on Twitter through its employees.

So why so long? Weren’t Tanner Friedman monitoring their own brand as well as that of their clients?

There are numerous tools available to track what’s being said about you. Some are free, like Social Mention, Google Alerts, Filtrbox, BackType and, of course, Twitter.

There are also premium solutions available as well, like Radian6, Nielsen BuzzMetrics, Cision Social Media and Trackur to name just a few.

So it’s not as if the tools aren’t there.

Indeed, Tanner Friedman’s own blurb describes them as, “…an innovative and imaginative communication resource…” with a “…commitment to new technologies…”.

So what happened?

I sent an email to Tanner Friedman to ask their views on the current situation. Kudos to Don Tanner, who was pretty prompt at getting back to me. Here’s what Don had to say about the time lapse:

“We dealt with the problem once we became aware that there was a problem. The problematic tweets did not occur immediately. Once they did and we became aware of them, we acted immediately.”

With regards not having the Tanner Friedman account registered to the company to start with:

“We each had our own Twitter pages along with our own Facebook and Tanner Friedman Facebook pages. Further, as with most professional service firms, we tend to put our clients first. Further (and maybe it is a Midwest thing), Twitter has only emerged here in the past few months.”

It’s never pleasant to be at the centre of negativity when you’re looking after a PR client. It’s even less so when the negativity is about you. Yet one thing you can’t do is let it run.

While it’s clear that Tanner Friedman acted once aware of the account, there still seems to be a time lapse between the first tweet and the complaint, considering more tweets were sent throughout February and March.This is where the obvious problem lies.

Two hours can be a long time when it comes to bad news spreading on social media; two months is a lifetime in comparison.

What this lawsuit shows is the need to be proactive at every turn when it comes to hearing the conversations that are taking place as well as securing your brand early on. Otherwise, you might just find that someone’s been proactive for you.

Of course, Twitter needs to take responsibility as well. Account authorization has to be stepped up (which they are currently looking at) and their customer service currently leaves a lot to be desired. If they really want to take the service to the next level, they need to actually offer a service that looks after its users.

How about you? Do you know what’s being said about you online? How do you monitor the conversations and what advice do you give your clients and employees?

Creative Commons License photo credit: Dude Crush

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38 comments
DaveMurr
DaveMurr

"Twitter has only emerged here in the past few months"This is a very important lesson and I would stress that the comment made does not accurately reflect the views of those here, not only Michigan, but in the Midwest.Ouch... I can say having moved back to Michigan (which I believe is considered Midwest), there is an incredible amount of talent here. Not only in Michigan, but throughout the region. I moved back to last October.. hmm that was 8 months ago. So I guess Twitter has been around at least that long.

DaveMurr
DaveMurr

"Twitter has only emerged here in the past few months"

This is a very important lesson and I would stress that the comment made does not accurately reflect the views of those here, not only Michigan, but in the Midwest.

Ouch... I can say having moved back to Michigan (which I believe is considered Midwest), there is an incredible amount of talent here. Not only in Michigan, but throughout the region. I moved back to last October.. hmm that was 8 months ago. So I guess Twitter has been around at least that long.

DaveMurr
DaveMurr

"Twitter has only emerged here in the past few months"This is a very important lesson and I would stress that the comment made does not accurately reflect the views of those here, not only Michigan, but in the Midwest.Ouch... I can say having moved back to Michigan (which I believe is considered Midwest), there is an incredible amount of talent here. Not only in Michigan, but throughout the region. I moved back to last October.. hmm that was 8 months ago. So I guess Twitter has been around at least that long.

Danny
Danny

Hi Brandon,

I did think that was a surprising comment - maybe I was guilty of giving Tanner Friedman the benefit of the doubt? However, I definitely agree (and hence the email to them in the first place) that the lack of monitoring is unforgivable.

Say it had been a client that was under the cosh from a fake Twitter account - would the response have been so slow? Unfortunately we can only guess, since no-one from Tanner Friedman has offered their views here, despite being sent the link to the piece as soon as it was live.

More lessons learned, perhaps?

Cheers Brandon, appreciate you stopping by and offering your views.

Danny
Danny

Hi Brandon,I did think that was a surprising comment - maybe I was guilty of giving Tanner Friedman the benefit of the doubt? However, I definitely agree (and hence the email to them in the first place) that the lack of monitoring is unforgivable. Say it had been a client that was under the cosh from a fake Twitter account - would the response have been so slow? Unfortunately we can only guess, since no-one from Tanner Friedman has offered their views here, despite being sent the link to the piece as soon as it was live.More lessons learned, perhaps?Cheers Brandon, appreciate you stopping by and offering your views.

brandonchesnutt
brandonchesnutt

Danny,

As a PR pro in Michigan, I can DEFINITELY say that Twitter has been around in this area for more than "a few months." Many of us here are incredibly active in the social media space, and have been for quite some time.

You know as well as I do, social media puts the responsibility back on brands to monitor their reputation. Even if a company isn't actively participating online, they should still be taking the appropriate steps to monitor "chatter" on the Internet.

Let this case be a lesson for us all.

Brandon
@bchesnutt

brandonchesnutt
brandonchesnutt

Danny,As a PR pro in Michigan, I can DEFINITELY say that Twitter has been around in this area for more than "a few months." Many of us here are incredibly active in the social media space, and have been for quite some time. You know as well as I do, social media puts the responsibility back on brands to monitor their reputation. Even if a company isn't actively participating online, they should still be taking the appropriate steps to monitor "chatter" on the Internet. Let this case be a lesson for us all.Brandon@bchesnutt

brandonchesnutt
brandonchesnutt

Danny,As a PR pro in Michigan, I can DEFINITELY say that Twitter has been around in this area for more than "a few months." Many of us here are incredibly active in the social media space, and have been for quite some time. You know as well as I do, social media puts the responsibility back on brands to monitor their reputation. Even if a company isn't actively participating online, they should still be taking the appropriate steps to monitor "chatter" on the Internet. Let this case be a lesson for us all.Brandon@bchesnutt

DaveMurr
DaveMurr

"Twitter has only emerged here in the past few months"This is a very important lesson and I would stress that the comment made does not accurately reflect the views of those here, not only Michigan, but in the Midwest.Ouch... I can say having moved back to Michigan (which I believe is considered Midwest), there is an incredible amount of talent here. Not only in Michigan, but throughout the region. I moved back to last October.. hmm that was 8 months ago. So I guess Twitter has been around at least that long.

DaveMurr
DaveMurr

"Twitter has only emerged here in the past few months"

This is a very important lesson and I would stress that the comment made does not accurately reflect the views of those here, not only Michigan, but in the Midwest.

Ouch... I can say having moved back to Michigan (which I believe is considered Midwest), there is an incredible amount of talent here. Not only in Michigan, but throughout the region. I moved back to last October.. hmm that was 8 months ago. So I guess Twitter has been around at least that long.

DaveMurr
DaveMurr

"Twitter has only emerged here in the past few months"This is a very important lesson and I would stress that the comment made does not accurately reflect the views of those here, not only Michigan, but in the Midwest.Ouch... I can say having moved back to Michigan (which I believe is considered Midwest), there is an incredible amount of talent here. Not only in Michigan, but throughout the region. I moved back to last October.. hmm that was 8 months ago. So I guess Twitter has been around at least that long.

Danny
Danny

Hi Brandon,I did think that was a surprising comment, but maybe wanted to give Tanner Friedman the benefit of the doubt? However, I definitely agree (and hence the email to them in the first place) that the lack of monitoring is unforgivable. Say it had been a client that was under the cosh from a fake Twitter account - would the response have been so slow? Unfortunately we can only guess, since no-one from Tanner Friedman has offered their views here, despite being sent the link to the piece as soon as it was live.More lessons learned, perhaps?Cheers Brandon, appreciate you stopping by and offering your views.

Danny
Danny

Hi Brandon,

I did think that was a surprising comment, but maybe wanted to give Tanner Friedman the benefit of the doubt? However, I definitely agree (and hence the email to them in the first place) that the lack of monitoring is unforgivable.

Say it had been a client that was under the cosh from a fake Twitter account - would the response have been so slow? Unfortunately we can only guess, since no-one from Tanner Friedman has offered their views here, despite being sent the link to the piece as soon as it was live.

More lessons learned, perhaps?

Cheers Brandon, appreciate you stopping by and offering your views.

Danny
Danny

Hi Brandon,I did think that was a surprising comment, but maybe wanted to give Tanner Friedman the benefit of the doubt? However, I definitely agree (and hence the email to them in the first place) that the lack of monitoring is unforgivable. Say it had been a client that was under the cosh from a fake Twitter account - would the response have been so slow? Unfortunately we can only guess, since no-one from Tanner Friedman has offered their views here, despite being sent the link to the piece as soon as it was live.More lessons learned, perhaps?Cheers Brandon, appreciate you stopping by and offering your views.

brandonchesnutt
brandonchesnutt

Danny,As a PR pro in Michigan, I can DEFINITELY say that Twitter has been around in this area for more than "a few months." Many of us here are incredibly active in the social media space, and have been for quite some time. You know as well as I do, social media puts the responsibility back on brands to monitor their reputation. Even if a company isn't actively participating online, they should still be taking the appropriate steps to monitor "chatter" on the Internet. Let this case be a lesson for us all.Brandon@bchesnutt

brandonchesnutt
brandonchesnutt

Danny,

As a PR pro in Michigan, I can DEFINITELY say that Twitter has been around in this area for more than "a few months." Many of us here are incredibly active in the social media space, and have been for quite some time.

You know as well as I do, social media puts the responsibility back on brands to monitor their reputation. Even if a company isn't actively participating online, they should still be taking the appropriate steps to monitor "chatter" on the Internet.

Let this case be a lesson for us all.

Brandon
@bchesnutt

brandonchesnutt
brandonchesnutt

Danny,As a PR pro in Michigan, I can DEFINITELY say that Twitter has been around in this area for more than "a few months." Many of us here are incredibly active in the social media space, and have been for quite some time. You know as well as I do, social media puts the responsibility back on brands to monitor their reputation. Even if a company isn't actively participating online, they should still be taking the appropriate steps to monitor "chatter" on the Internet. Let this case be a lesson for us all.Brandon@bchesnutt

DaveMurr
DaveMurr

"Twitter has only emerged here in the past few months"

This is a very important lesson and I would stress that the comment made does not accurately reflect the views of those here, not only Michigan, but in the Midwest.

Ouch... I can say having moved back to Michigan (which I believe is considered Midwest), there is an incredible amount of talent here. Not only in Michigan, but throughout the region. I moved back to last October.. hmm that was 8 months ago. So I guess Twitter has been around at least that long.
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Danny Brown
Danny Brown

Hi Brandon,

I did think that was a surprising comment - maybe I was guilty of giving Tanner Friedman the benefit of the doubt? However, I definitely agree (and hence the email to them in the first place) that the lack of monitoring is unforgivable.

Say it had been a client that was under the cosh from a fake Twitter account - would the response have been so slow? Unfortunately we can only guess, since no-one from Tanner Friedman has offered their views here, despite being sent the link to the piece as soon as it was live.

More lessons learned, perhaps?

Cheers Brandon, appreciate you stopping by and offering your views.
via uberVU

Tim Jahn
Tim Jahn

I understand that they concentrate much of their efforts on their client work and that is a good thing. But as you said, two months is a lifetime on the web. If a few days had passed before they reacted, that would be understandable. But two months? No excuse.

Not listening is one thing. But not listening and then after two months deciding to complain about a fake account defaming you is a whole different story. Obviously people defaming you isn't that big of a deal since you put little effort into monitoring your brand.

I apologize if I'm coming across too harsh here. But anybody who hangs out in these spaces (ie, a PR firm such as Tanner) hears this listening and monitoring stuff day in and day out. It's like addition and subtraction at this point - basic.

An "innovative and imaginative" company shouldn't still be learning their multiplication tables.

Tim Jahn
Tim Jahn

I understand that they concentrate much of their efforts on their client work and that is a good thing. But as you said, two months is a lifetime on the web. If a few days had passed before they reacted, that would be understandable. But two months? No excuse.

Not listening is one thing. But not listening and then after two months deciding to complain about a fake account defaming you is a whole different story. Obviously people defaming you isn't that big of a deal since you put little effort into monitoring your brand.

I apologize if I'm coming across too harsh here. But anybody who hangs out in these spaces (ie, a PR firm such as Tanner) hears this listening and monitoring stuff day in and day out. It's like addition and subtraction at this point - basic.

An "innovative and imaginative" company shouldn't still be learning their multiplication tables.

Tim Jahn
Tim Jahn

I understand that they concentrate much of their efforts on their client work and that is a good thing. But as you said, two months is a lifetime on the web. If a few days had passed before they reacted, that would be understandable. But two months? No excuse. Not listening is one thing. But not listening and then after two months deciding to complain about a fake account defaming you is a whole different story. Obviously people defaming you isn't that big of a deal since you put little effort into monitoring your brand. I apologize if I'm coming across too harsh here. But anybody who hangs out in these spaces (ie, a PR firm such as Tanner) hears this listening and monitoring stuff day in and day out. It's like addition and subtraction at this point - basic. An "innovative and imaginative" company shouldn't still be learning their multiplication tables.

Kasey Skala
Kasey Skala

I don't want to point fingers and say who's wrong & who's right, it is clear that this issue should have and could have been taken care of in a more timely matter. If you have a personal account on Twitter and/or implementing it for a client, how can you not monitor it constantly? I Google my name regularly and I search the social media platforms I frequent on a regular basis as well. This shows you that no one or no company is exempt for negative comments, etc. However, as PR pros we must also not allow this to scare clients off. A big fear is "what do I do about negative comments?" Great learning lesson for all of us. .-= Kasey Skala´s last blog post ...Why research is important =-.

Kasey Skala
Kasey Skala

I don't want to point fingers and say who's wrong & who's right, it is clear that this issue should have and could have been taken care of in a more timely matter. If you have a personal account on Twitter and/or implementing it for a client, how can you not monitor it constantly? I Google my name regularly and I search the social media platforms I frequent on a regular basis as well.

This shows you that no one or no company is exempt for negative comments, etc. However, as PR pros we must also not allow this to scare clients off. A big fear is "what do I do about negative comments?"

Great learning lesson for all of us.
.-= Kasey Skala´s last blog post ...Why research is important =-.

Kasey Skala
Kasey Skala

I don't want to point fingers and say who's wrong & who's right, it is clear that this issue should have and could have been taken care of in a more timely matter. If you have a personal account on Twitter and/or implementing it for a client, how can you not monitor it constantly? I Google my name regularly and I search the social media platforms I frequent on a regular basis as well.

This shows you that no one or no company is exempt for negative comments, etc. However, as PR pros we must also not allow this to scare clients off. A big fear is "what do I do about negative comments?"

Great learning lesson for all of us.
.-= Kasey Skala´s last blog post ...Why research is important =-.

Heather Whaling
Heather Whaling

Wow -- I hadn't heard about this lawsuit. Having worked at a few PR agencies, I get the "client-first" mentality. We often forget to promote ourselves because we're so busy acting on our clients behalf. But, that's no excuse for not paying attention. Online reputation management is a key component of "PR 2.0." If we're not tracking online conversations to see what's being said about our clients -- and ourselves -- we're doing the brand a disservice. That's one of those newer PR skills that shouldn't be underestimated or overlooked.
.-= Heather Whaling´s last blog post ...PR HTML Starter Kit =-.

Heather Whaling
Heather Whaling

Wow -- I hadn't heard about this lawsuit. Having worked at a few PR agencies, I get the "client-first" mentality. We often forget to promote ourselves because we're so busy acting on our clients behalf. But, that's no excuse for not paying attention. Online reputation management is a key component of "PR 2.0." If we're not tracking online conversations to see what's being said about our clients -- and ourselves -- we're doing the brand a disservice. That's one of those newer PR skills that shouldn't be underestimated or overlooked.
.-= Heather Whaling´s last blog post ...PR HTML Starter Kit =-.

Heather Whaling
Heather Whaling

Wow -- I hadn't heard about this lawsuit. Having worked at a few PR agencies, I get the "client-first" mentality. We often forget to promote ourselves because we're so busy acting on our clients behalf. But, that's no excuse for not paying attention. Online reputation management is a key component of "PR 2.0." If we're not tracking online conversations to see what's being said about our clients -- and ourselves -- we're doing the brand a disservice. That's one of those newer PR skills that shouldn't be underestimated or overlooked. .-= Heather Whaling´s last blog post ...PR HTML Starter Kit =-.

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

Michigan-based PR firm Tanner Friedman is in the process of a lawsuit against a fake Twitter account. Yet how much of the blame also lies with Tanner Friedman?
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Danny Brown
Danny Brown

Michigan-based PR firm Tanner Friedman is in the process of a lawsuit against a fake Twitter account. Yet how much of the blame also lies with Tanner Friedman?
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Danny
Danny

Hi Brandon,I did think that was a surprising comment - maybe I was guilty of giving Tanner Friedman the benefit of the doubt? However, I definitely agree (and hence the email to them in the first place) that the lack of monitoring is unforgivable. Say it had been a client that was under the cosh from a fake Twitter account - would the response have been so slow? Unfortunately we can only guess, since no-one from Tanner Friedman has offered their views here, despite being sent the link to the piece as soon as it was live.More lessons learned, perhaps?Cheers Brandon, appreciate you stopping by and offering your views.

Danny
Danny

That's definitely the one thing that stands out like a sore thumb, Tim, the time factor. Like you say (as do the other commenters here) you need to look after your clients; but will clients still be willing to trust you with their brand if you can't monitor your own effectively?

Even if Twitter is something that has only "emerged in the last few months" in the mid-West, I'm sure Tanner Friedman has national (and possibly international) clients and aren't just working to their locality. So keeping on top of your name remains one of the top priorities.

The problem we have with the instant and vast amount of information available is that no longer do we always have the luxury of walking before we can run; now we have to be sprinters from the word "Go". Something more companies are finding out when it comes to brand management and reputation.

Danny
Danny

That's definitely the one thing that stands out like a sore thumb, Tim, the time factor. Like you say (as do the other commenters here) you need to look after your clients; but will clients still be willing to trust you with their brand if you can't monitor your own effectively?

Even if Twitter is something that has only "emerged in the last few months" in the mid-West, I'm sure Tanner Friedman has national (and possibly international) clients and aren't just working to their locality. So keeping on top of your name remains one of the top priorities.

The problem we have with the instant and vast amount of information available is that no longer do we always have the luxury of walking before we can run; now we have to be sprinters from the word "Go". Something more companies are finding out when it comes to brand management and reputation.

Danny
Danny

That's definitely the one thing that stands out like a sore thumb, Tim, the time factor. Like you say (as do the other commenters here) you need to look after your clients; but will clients still be willing to trust you with their brand if you can't monitor your own effectively? Even if Twitter is something that has only "emerged in the last few months" in the mid-West, I'm sure Tanner Friedman has national (and possibly international) clients and aren't just working to their locality. So keeping on top of your name remains one of the top priorities. The problem we have with the instant and vast amount of information available is that no longer do we always have the luxury of walking before we can run; now we have to be sprinters from the word "Go". Something more companies are finding out when it comes to brand management and reputation.

Danny
Danny

I think that's an important point you make, Kasey. I'm not sure how long the personal Twitter accounts have been live, but I would have thought that a company one was as equally important to have set up (if not more so). The thing about negative comments is that they're already happening (as I mention to Heather above). Facing them head-on, conversing and actually having a dialogue about the negativity is needed. If you can turn a hater into someone that may still have doubts about you, but in a more reasoned way, then that's some of the best PR you can get.

Danny
Danny

I think that's an important point you make, Kasey. I'm not sure how long the personal Twitter accounts have been live, but I would have thought that a company one was as equally important to have set up (if not more so).

The thing about negative comments is that they're already happening (as I mention to Heather above). Facing them head-on, conversing and actually having a dialogue about the negativity is needed. If you can turn a hater into someone that may still have doubts about you, but in a more reasoned way, then that's some of the best PR you can get.

Danny
Danny

It's a solid point, Heather - I think everyone needs to up their game and make sure they know what's happening around them. As many examples have shown - Motrin and CNN being just two recent examples - people are talking about us whether we like it or not. We need to be ready to react and respond, sooner rather than later.

Danny
Danny

It's a solid point, Heather - I think everyone needs to up their game and make sure they know what's happening around them. As many examples have shown - Motrin and CNN being just two recent examples - people are talking about us whether we like it or not. We need to be ready to react and respond, sooner rather than later.

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