In citizen journalism, corporate reputation, crisis communications, insights, social media

With one errant tweet, an employee at Johns Hopkins University shows that employers large and small should be educating employees on the promise and perils of their social media commentary.

The back story: A Hopkins employee posted a tasteless comment on Twitter about NFL player Torrey Smith less than 24 hours after Smith endured great personal tragedy. The comment sparked an uproar on Twitter and quickly earned national news, from ESPN to The Baltimore Sun.

Hopkins had nothing to do with the tweet. It was issued by an employee on her personal time and personal Twitter profile. But that didn’t save the highly respected institution from being sucked into a maelstrom of bad press for 72 hours (and counting). Consider the employee-hours Hopkins had to devote to this controversy that could have otherwise been devoted to constructive work.

The lesson: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Employers need to take the time to educate employees on the consequences of content they publish – even on their personal time.

We’ve offered tips for employers before that you can read here. In our experience, you’ll be surprised how many good questions your employees have when you actually start a dialogue with them on this subject.  We hope these tips help your company avoid unwelcome controversy in the future.