After seeing this stunt via PR Week it got me thinking about naming and shaming in the modern day world.
Publishers Pan Macmillan set up hashtag-shaped wooden stocks in London earlier this week as a stunt to promote the book So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed written by journalist Jon Ronson.
The billboard reads “Years ago we put people in the stocks or the pillory to humiliate them in public…now we just tweet.”
On a week following two very sad deaths of British icons, this topic seems particularly relevant.
Social media saw outpourings of grief for both music legend David Bowie and theatre veteran Alan Rickman.
But before too long, Twitter turned nasty and became ready to judge others for how they expressed their bereavement.
For example Emma Watson, former co-star or Rickman’s, was scrutinised for this tweet:
— Emma Watson (@EmWatson) January 14, 2016
The actress was accused of jumping on the bandwagon of his death as a means of promoting her feminist cause.
The story travelled fast and stormed it way its way into national papers fuelled by the digital equivalent of an angry mob, armed with smartphones and hashtags instead of torches and pitchforks.
The fact this was one of many pictures Watson shared of Rickman or that the reason she shared it was that it was something she loved about him didn’t matter any more because she had been shamed by the Twitter army.
The social media channel’s format makes its so easy for storm in a teacup-like rage to ensue as often as it does. You can follow well known celebrities and many of them control their own accounts.
Like many of us, these stars tweet their instant thoughts as is the nature of the social networking site. And, much like life, it has has no edit button. You can delete what you’ve said but not before it’s instantly searchable content has reached multiple corners of the internet, provoking Twitter trolls everywhere to crack their knuckles and get to work with letting everyone know exactly what was said, with a hefty helping of their opinion on the side.
If you or a client experience the wrath of the Twitter army, it can be overwhelming and at times suffocating. So from a PR point of view, depending on what has been said, some crisis management may need to be in order to calm everyone down. This is especially applicable to customer-facing brands who’s reputation is extremely important.
But for someone like Emma Watson, what would my advice to her be to deal with these trolls?
I think the tamest version would be to stick a certain finger up at them and carry on exactly how she is.
No one can excuse her of having a political agenda by simply sharing a quote from Alan Rickman, paying tribute to the humanitarian and feminist ideals they shared. Perhaps this quote was one of the original contributing factors to her deciding to spread awareness of feminism. And if what she shared inspires a complete stranger, even better. I’m sure that’s what Rickman would have preferred.
As much as I love social media and the positive power it has, every Jekyll has its Hyde and trolling is the darker side of Twitter that is best avoided. I’m all for freedom of speech, but perhaps this is a little too far.
What do you think? Was Emma Watson in the wrong? Tweet us your thoughts @LondonPRagency or leave us a comment.
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