Entrepreneurs: How (not) to get attention with Twitter3 March 2015


Sarah Caddy

Oops. Sir Richard has made another splash in the gossip columns this week with his ever-so-slightly cringe-worthy simile choices:

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The tweet split opinion in the office; some were mortified, others impressed that he clearly writes his own tweets (surely this would never get past a corporate comms professional?!). One thing we all agreed on: busy entrepreneurs can sometimes unwittingly strike the wrong tone. It takes time to consider all of the possible implications for our words (or pictures – Branson’s twitter feed includes the odd twit pic of “students changing their world one app at a time” – all of whom happen to be attractive young female students). Of course, this is why there’s a place for corp comms professionals to take over the grunt work of a social media strategy – one that our business leader clients are generally delighted to pass over. But we keep them focused – what does your overall Twitter stream say about you?

Entrepreneurs are focused on the big picture, and they often stand out by breaking a few rules. Case in point? Mario Gabelli’s FTfm face-to-face interview this week. Asked whether taking Gamco Investors public in 1999 was the best decision he’s ever made, the entrepreneurial CEO investor (startlingly) said, “Being born was the best decision I ever made.” Not what his PR team might want to read in terms of landing key messages, but then it probably won’t affect his investors’ opinions if he continues his solid track record of returns.

The final irony? On further investigation of the Virgin blogsite, we discovered that Branson’s offending simile was in fact a direct quote from that great British hero (renowned for taking action), Winston Churchill. That’s another fact about great entrepreneurs: the media will always delight in having fun with them.