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March 31, 2011
GE's Inept Tax Tweets
 
If a corporation is going to use Twitter to respond to a factually complex situation, it needs to be more adept at tweeting than General Electric has been. GE has, instead, demonstrated the hazards of social media if you're a global giant, or perhaps anyone with a complex story to tell.

The New York Times ran a March 24 story that G.E. paid no U.S. corporate income tax for 2010. That, of course, caused a storm of indignation that GE attempted to counter, in part at least, with tweets like this one:

@GEpublicaffairs: @Jwesty5 Claiming that GE's American tax bill is "none" is simply not true. GE pays payroll, property, sales use & value added taxes, etc.

That's clearly a dodge when the situation is decidedly more complex, as indicated in a much more helpful, and longer, response (in the comments section here) by another GE spokesperson, Anne Eisele, to Henry Blodget, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Business Insider. Whether U.S. corporations are paying a fair share of income taxes is a separate question from the factual situation of any of them when pages on a calendar don't provide the entire context. 

Corporate taxes are, truly, a daunting subject for 140 character responses. What other types of challenging situations come to mind as you consider whether, or how, to use Twitter for public relations purposes? We thank Ira Kalb for bringing this subject to mind via a post on BNET

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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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