SPECIAL FEATURE: The Queen is dead? Not

Robyn Hall

June 10, 2015

It was back in 1986 that Morrissey, Marr, Rourke and Joyce first announced the death of Her Majesty The Queen via the song and seminal album of the same name. Twenty nine years on and rumours of our Monarch’s demise are still being put ‘out there’ into the wider media, even though she thankfully remains very much with us.

Of course it could only be the twittersphere where such ‘news’ is now broken and there’s no stopping any Tom, Dick or Prince Charles from penning a tweet announcing that Queen Liz is no more.

What perhaps makes the most recent twitter faux pas particularly interesting was that it came from the BBC – an institution which should surely know better.

For those that missed it, during a recent day of ‘dress rehearsals’ by the Beeb for reporting the death of the Queen – I suppose they need to have these should this blackest of days come sooner than we would wish – one of their broadcast reporters tweeted the following:

“Queen Elizabrth has died.” –

Ahmen Khawaja, BBC Journalist.

Now forgetting the typo in the name, it is perhaps not surprising that many believed the tweet to be the truth and, as it’s want to do, twitter quickly went into meltdown. Countless denials, deletes, and further rumours later it became clear that the Queen wasn’t brown bread at all. By sheer coincidence though on the same day the Queen had had also attended her annual medical at King Edward VII’s hospital in London.

But it does go to show how careful we all need to be before firing off a tweet or post which is factually incorrect, offensive, libellous, or a combination of all three.

Take for instance the Sheffield Law firm where someone thought it would be a good idea during the recent Alton Towers rollercoaster rescue operation to tweet the following:

‘Been injured in a roller coaster operation? We’re experts in Personal Injury!! #Smiler #AltonTowers’

Given the injuries suffered by those involved – and the fact they were still being rescued by the Fire Brigade at the time of the tweet – to say this was insensitive and ill-advised would be something of an understatement.

Unless you’re a firm believer in ‘all publicity is good publicity’ then to see your firm splashed all over the regional and national media because of the offense your tweet or post has caused, is not going to put you in a happy place.

These examples should give you a very clear example that social media needs to be used with the ‘Engaged Brain’ function well and truly on.

Many people point to the fact that tweets can be deleted but once it’s up there and available to view, it only needs one person to take a screen grab and the evidence of the offending post is there for all to see, for all eternity.

Positive business reputations can take years and years to build but mere seconds to destroy and therefore make sure you double-check what you’re putting on your social media accounts, but also what you are doing with all your communications. I’ve already seen examples of poorly worded and communicated client letters finding their way on to twitter in a name and shame exercise, and the brand and business damage that this might cause can be horrendous.

The benefits of using social media, I believe, are many and varied but it has to be remembered there are also downsides if you are not careful.

Some believe that ‘anything goes’ on twitter and that being some kind of ‘keyboard warrior’ is acceptable – the fact is that you could be playing with your own and your firm’s reputation.

Simply put, the Queen is not dead and think before you tweet.


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