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February 24, 2011
Keep Tweeting Your Critics
 
We haven't heard the other side of this, but it seems rather petulant for Twitter's PR chief to unfollow a web reporter who criticized the tweetmill for angling to reduce the payroll taxes it pays San Francisco for its headquarters there. Sean Garrett, Twitter's vice president of communications, left a tech PR agency himself last year to become Twitter's head PR guy. 

In packing it up at 463 Communications last February, Garrett said he was "eager to dust off my front-line media relations chops after spending most of the last nine years focused on the shadowy, back-room strategy thing."  In PR, though, some emotional responses are better left in the backroom, like unfollowing a critic. It only gets you talked about in a less than cheery vein. 

Tom Foremski wrote on his Silicon Valley Watcher blog earlier this month that "Twitter is a company that loves to tout its commitment to social responsibility but clearly this is just public relations chatter. When it comes to paying its local taxes, which goes (stet) to support San Francisco local community services and infrastructure, it wants to take away community resources. 

"What sort of social responsibility is this?"

Twitter has reportedly threatened to move to Brisbane, CA, if it doesn't get a break on its San Francisco taxes. 

Yesterday, TG Daily reported that "Twitter PR chief Sean Garrett has unceremoniously 'unfollowed' a San Francisco-based journalist (Foremski) for publishing a series of unflattering articles about the popular social networking site."

If this was indeed tweeting petulance on Garrett's part, it was foolish. Better to keep all your professional contacts in your phone book. Things blow over. And media black eyes are unbecoming.

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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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