Twitter’s increasing popularity with celebrities and sports stars

This is an article by Jessica Johnson.
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Jessica Johnson

Only a few years ago PR was deemed to be one of the most important sectors of the business world. During the economic recession, it became one of the worst hit by job cuts.

PR was predominantly used by organisations to communicate corporate messages to publics, stakeholders and shareholders. More recently organisations, businessmen and celebrities now use social media to communicate directly with the public, communicating a more personal and usually effective message across.

It has become a popular two way communication tool with many celebrities holding question and answer periods on Twitter in their free time. Twitter users can directly contact the stars and ask any questions they may have about any topic.

Some of the most famous UK Tweeters are Rio Ferdinand, Sir Alan Sugar, Piers Morgan, Wayne Rooney, Lady Gaga and most recently Cheryl Cole, who had over 300,000 followers without even tweeting. The use of social media is also increasing within the sporting industry with numerous sports people using Twitter, such as Rio Ferdinand, Wayne Rooney, Michael Vaughn, Joey Barton and Jessica Ennis.

Wayne Rooney took the public and media by storm by posting the first picture of his hair transplant on Twitter in June earlier this year. The support Rooney received was phenomenal and quickly lead to numerous young men admitting they were embarrassed by their lack of hair and stating they too would consider having a transplant. Clinics are worried however as the men are not considering the risks that are involved in the procedure. Who needs a PR when you have the world at your fingertips?

Twitter can however magnify problems to the media. Jason Manford found this out when it was exposed he had been having what was described as, ‘steamy chats to 12 girls on Twitter and video calls on Skype’. Vernon Kay and Ashley Cole have also suffered from Twitter after flirting with girls via the social media site.

Wayne Rooney has also been into trouble after he received abuse from a user calling him, “a “fat whore” and threatened to “smash ya head in with a pitchin wedge.” Rooney retaliated by replying to the user saying, “I’ll put u asleep within 10 seconds u little girl. Don’t say stuff and not follow up on it. I’ll be waiting”. The Manchester United and England footballer later claimed it was all banter and that he never intended to fight the Twitter user.

Earlier this season West Ham defender Danny Gabbidon was fined £6,000 by the FA for improper conduct after leaving Twitter with the message: “U know what, f*** the lot of you, u will never get another tweet from me again, you just don’t get it do you. Bye bye. While former Liverpool player Ryan Babel was fined £10,000 for improper conduct, after posting a picture of Howard Webb in a Manchester United shirt following Liverpool’s 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford in the FA Cup.

Social media isn’t all bad however as it helps people keep in touch with friends, keep up to date with issues, listen to celebrities opinions and their version of the truth behind the headlines, but when used improperly can cause quite a stir in the media.

Due to the increasing popularity and increase in use of social media sites, not only by celebrities but also by sportsmen, businessmen and businesses people are now able to manage their own PR, whether helping or hindering, by posting their own opinions and stories online.

Wayne Rooney’s hair transplant for example received little bad press and was accepted and acknowledged by the media, other celebrities and helped young men facing the same issue to step forward and begin asking for help. Whether this has helped the procedure become more “fashionable” is a worry but either way, it has become widely accepted through the use of social media.

Twitter sees the discussions of some of the most controversial topics which pose threats not only for the user but also for their manager, whether it is their PR or their football manager. Sir Alex Ferguson isn’t shy about his thoughts regarding Twitter, and openly admits the site is a waste of time. After the Wayne Rooney incident earlier this year, it was rumoured that Alex Ferguson was thinking of banning all Manchester United players from using the site.

This would include Rio Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney, who combined have over three million followers. It would also see Louis Nani and Michael Owen banned from the site. There is no confirmation this would solve the problem and could damage the reputation of the club and the players after seeing the success Twitter can have when handled correctly, such as Wayne Rooney’s hair transplant. As they say, no PR is bad PR right?

Numerous celebrities also let their management and PR team post on their Twitter accounts such as JLS, Pixie Lott and Matt Cardle which means they are then able to monitor what the artists are saying or delete quickly if need be.

As a solution, PR’s could be more involved with the site on behalf of the user but this could create more problems after the public has been so used to hearing the views and opinions of the stars, not what the PR’s want them to hear. Personally if PR’s were to get involved, the whole purpose of Twitter would be spoiled and it would be full of promotional tweets instead.


  1. David Clare says:

    Interesting examples Jessica, and a topic that needs more discussion – should PRs take control of personal Twitter accounts?

    Like you, I think not. But there is room for PR to get involved. While I do not think a PR professional should take control of the account, they should offer training and support. Whenever I heard about a aggressive tweet from a celebrity I wonder why they have not been given decent training.

    There are two points where I disagree – I think PRs should never delete tweets. If the public has seen it there will likely be a screenshot and it’ll look worse on the celebrity for having deleted it. I also disagree that PRs would spoil Twitter by making it promotional – good PR is about the conversation, marketing is where promotion comes in to play.

    Great article and interesting topic, certainly something for anyone looking to go into celebrity PR to think about.

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