Twitter: All the News Unfit to Print

 Twitter: All the News Unfit to Print

The PR Verdict: “A” (PR Perfect) for Tommaso De Benedetti (below; pictured, author J.K. Rowling).


British author J.K. Rowling apparently died earlier this week. Fellow writer John Le Carre broke the news on his Twitter feed, saying that her death was the result of an accident. Mysterious indeed, but all the more confusing as J.K. Rowling is still alive and well, and Le Carre doesn’t generally update his followers on matters regarding Ms. Rowling. But the news went viral anyway and was retweeted hundreds of times, even appearing on a Chilean television broadcast. What was going on?


 Twitter: All the News Unfit to Print

Fake Tweeter Tommaso De Benedetti.

The not-so-elaborate hoax was the brainchild of Tommaso De Benedetti, who, when not faking Tweets, teaches literature in Rome. De Benedetti has previously killed off numerous celebrities, including Fidel Castro and the Pope, simply by saying it has happened. His fake Tweets have highlighted the ease with which a rumor can spread. Setting up bogus Tweets such as John Le Carre’s, he then spreads his “news.” His point? Retweets by the media become “fact,” despite never being independently verified.

De Benedetti describes his experiments as “games” that prove the media needs to carry out the necessary checks. He told the media that his “aim is to show that Twitter has become a news agency – the least reliable in the world.” But his efforts also demonstrate other basic learning points.

THE PR VERDICT: “A” (PR Perfect) for Tommaso De Benedetti. Anything can be true at any given time, provided the brand is credible and no details are given.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: If you want something to be true, provide crumbs, not a banquet.  Debenedetti makes the valuable but predictable pitch that quality journalism requires independent sourcing. What is more surprising is that  breaking news works best when it is less than the 140 characters required by Twitter. Details are not needed; all that is necessary is a name with brand recognition that has authority, and a grabbing headline. A useful rule for PRs wanting to make an instant splash; anything is now possible.

To read more, click here.


What did Castro Ask the Pope?

popecuba What did Castro Ask the Pope?

The PR Verdict: “B” for Castro for a clever PR move.

“And what does a Pope do?”  That apparently was the question posed by octogenarian dictator Fidel Castro to the Pope on his recent visit to Cuba.  The Pope, no doubt surprised, politely responded to Castro by talking of his ministry, his trips, and his service to the Church, so says the Vatican’s spokesman.

The Pope in his historic visit made a couple of vague digs at Marxism and spoke about the need for freedom, calling on both the USA and Cuba “to seek truth and choose the way of love, sowing reconciliation and fraternity.”   Nothing too threatening for his hosts.

What else came out of the visit?  Christmas was reinstated by the Cuban regime as a courtesy to the Pontiff as was Good Friday.  Hassle free concessions from one of the world’s nastier dictators.

The PR Verdict: “B” for Castro and his cronies for a clever PR move.  He emerged as the “listening dictator” and by making a couple of smart moves, gave catholic minded Latin Americans something positive to talk about.

The Church and committed Marxists don’t usually get along.  What better way to reboot a tempestuous relationship than by asking a question? Castro’s headline-making ice breaker startled not only for its genuine weirdness but because it changed the dynamic of the visit.  Sounding more like a kid on a school excursion, Castro became the listening dictator not the dictator of famously long interminable monologues.  Smart move.

To read more click here and here.

What’s your PR verdict on Castro’s PR strategy?

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