October 07, 2014
/ by Guest Contributor
This is a guest post by Kara Alaimo, Assistant Professor of Public Relations in the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication at Hofstra University.
This summer, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) famously launched its Twitter handle, @CIA. Three months, nearly 750,000 followers, and 184 tweets later, their handle offers important lessons for public relations professionals about how to communicate – and sometimes how not to communicate – on social media platforms.
First, a few things the agency is doing right:
Given the classified nature of much of its work, it is unsurprising that the CIA refrains from engaging in protracted debates on public platforms. In regulated industries such as government and healthcare, there are different rules for social media use. While many brands may be able to actively engage and respond to comments on Twitter, Facebook, or blogs, regulated industries have to take a much more conservative approach. Unless you also represent a brand in a regulated industry, however, here are a few practices that you will likely not want to replicate in your social media strategy:
From a public relations perspective, the CIA’s decision to join Twitter was the right one. The agency’s tweets show a lighter side of an agency whose behavior is otherwise shrouded in secrecy and controversy. However, the CIA’s inability to go all in and engage in the conversations actually happening online may ultimately limit the effectiveness of this tool for enhancing its reputation. Make sure you are maximizing the benefits of Twitter for your brand.
Kara Alaimo is Assistant Professor of Public Relations in the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication at Hofstra University. Follow her @karaalaimo.
[Featured Image courtesy of Tony Fischer on Flickr]
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