Two digital blunders: PR man disses his client’s city on Twitter; radio trade body’s rogue email

ketchum-twitter2It’s been a day of digital PR disasters in the US, with rogue emails and ill-advised Twitter messages causing two major embarrassments overnight.

In the most damaging to client relations, James Andrews, VP of PR giant Ketchum Communications was in Memphis yesterday for a major presentation to client FedEx. He Twittered: “I’m in one of those towns where I scratch my head and say I would die if I had to live here!”

Unfortunately, his message was spotted by FedEx staff. They sent a frosty retort:

“Many of my peers and I feel this is inappropriate. We do not know the total millions of dollars FedEx Corporation pays Ketchum annually for the valuable and important work your company does for us around the globe. We are confident however, it is enough to expect a greater level of respect and awareness from someone in your position as a vice president at a major global player in your industry. A hazard of social networking is people will read what you write.”

The blunder was all the more embarrasing because when Ketchum promoted the New York-based Andrews to VP, the announcement made much of his digital nous. And on his own blog, his most recent posting evangelises the benefits of Twitter.

Ketchum does not have its own office in Australia, although it is affiliated with Icon PR in Sydney.

(Update: Andrews has now posted a semi-apologetic response here.)

And in another digital PR faux pas, the radio trade body in the US suffered an embarrassing furore after a sacked employee hacked into the CEO’s account and sent out a fake email to the industry on his behalf. The message claiming to be from Jeff Haley,  boss of the Radio Advertising Bureau, gave details of senior staff salaries and accused the body of being sexist.


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