What can go wrong when launching an online Twitter campaign with a hashtag (#AskJameis) focusing on a talented but controversial star athlete? Perhaps the better question would ask what can’t go wrong. Open-ended social media promotions are risky, as converged communicators who have taken PUR3000 (Public Relations) know well. As reported in this AP article in the Florida Times-Union, though, Florida State didn’t get the message when they rolled out their #AskJameis campaign.
This campaign encouraged fans to send questions via Twitter to Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jameis Winston, a risky idea in the best of times. But when one considers that Winston has attracted negative headlines after a sexual assault investigation (in which he was not charged) and an embarrassing spring incident in which he walked out of a Publix without paying for crab legs (detailed in this earlier post), this could only go down as a bad decision. A (printable) sample of responses:
Robert Stewart, director of the Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, was quoted in the wire story as saying that “whoever thought this was a good idea had not done P.R. 101.” It’s hard to disagree. There’s consolation here for converged communicators, though. If you’ve taken PUR3000 and digested the lessons of #McDStories and similar campaigns that went sour, you’ve already shown more social media sense than the PR team for the multimillion-dollar FSU athletic program.