The Art – and Ugliness – of the Twitter Apology

March 17th, 2011

We’ve recently analyzed the fallout that leads to a Twitter apology, a format that’s growing in popularity.  Presumably we shouldn’t be surprised – after all, who wouldn’t love to escape the principal’s office after ‘fessing up in 140 characters?

The point is that while a 140-character-or-less apology may seem superficial, it’s quickly growing as today’s mea culpa standard.  But, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be treated with the same care and attention one would normally employ when apologizing.

For example, a grown adult wouldn’t shout or sing an apology, right?  After all, yelling “I’M SO SORRY” really comes across as shrill.  That’s why proper tone is essential to crafting a Twitter apology.

Unfortunately for WNBA player Cappie Poindexter, shouting an apology was the best she could muster after she exclaimed on Twitter that the unbelievably tragic Japan earthquake and tsunami were signs that “God was tired of the way [the Japanese] treated their own people in there [sic] own country.”  (Here’s an excellent summary of this PR disaster.)

After the resulting outcry, Poindexter offered her Twitter apology:

Unfortunately, her decision to take to Twitter in such a rambling, incoherent, grammar-nightmare rant – AND IN ALL CAPS – actually makes her come across as insincere and mouthing words because she got caught, not because she feels remorse.

Apologies, an integral part of crisis management, are all about showing true contrition.  If you can’t show real regret in 140 characters, then Twitter’s not the place to repent.

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