– If you are in the public eye, become proficient in how to use such facilities.

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As most of us know, to get our message out to the public, there is nothing easier to use than social media. Services such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, et al, have made it incredibly easy to disseminate text, graphics, videos, audio, or just about any other computer file. It is now the vehicle of choice to reach friends, family, customers, and news outlets. Whereas a 24 hour cycle was required to distribute news, now it is done around the clock and reaching a global audience.

Whereas many people have a cavalier attitude towards what they post on the Internet, and let the chips fall where they may, if you are in the public eye, you have to be extremely careful what you say and do. Case in point, the recent Dan Tucker incident here in Pinellas County. Dan is a local Republican Committeeman, an unpaid volunteer position. His job is basically to help Republicans get elected and recruit new members for the party. As such, he has no real power in party politics. He just assists any way he can.

In September, Pinellas County Commissioner John Morroni (a Republican) endorsed a Democrat for St. Petersburg City Council. In response, Tucker posted an unfortunate comment about Morroni’s health on Facebook, “Doesn’t he have cancer of the brain … hmmm?”, a reference to Morroni’s battle with lymphoma which is now in remission. The comment went viral and Tucker was openly chastised for making such a comment. The media picked up on the story thereby adding fuel to the fire.

Recognizing he had made a mistake, Tucker personally called Morroni and apologized and reported it on his Facebook page. Regardless, the attacks on Tucker became so voluminous, he suspended his Facebook page and is now careful who he talks to.

As Tucker learned the hard way, if you are in the public eye, you cannot afford to make a slip of the tongue. Social media may be a great way to disseminate news and information, but it is also a convenient means to shove your foot in your mouth. We have all said things we wish we could retract, including yours truly, but that is not easily done. If you’re an average Joe, you may not be overly concerned with what you say, but if you are in the public eye, you unfortunately have to be politically correct.

Even though Tucker was called upon to resign his position by his own party, he refused, and frankly I do not blame him as I believe this has been blown out of proportion. Did Tucker commit murder, mayhem, physically attack someone, abscond with party funds, caught in a sexual tryst, or some other felony? Heck, he didn’t even jaywalk. He made a slip of the tongue which he corrected by apology. Yet, a firestorm of protest ensued with people calling for his head. What is the old saying, “Let he who is without sin…”? As an aside, Tucker claims he received over a hundred messages, from both parties, NOT to resign.

If you are in the public eye, read your messages twice and think about them before posting. Look for grammar too as you will be judged not just by what you said, but how you said it. Next, learn how to delete a posting. True, someone may spot it before you can retrieve it, but make an effort to delete comments if they are wrong. Social media typically has functions to moderate comments on your web page; use them. Your social media page is YOUR page, not someone else’s. As such, police it accordingly. If someone persists in posting rude comments, block them as their comments will inevitably discourage others from following you. Finally, if you have made a mistake, fess up to it and offer an apology, and be sure to explain it on your social media page. It’s not foolproof, but your critics will be forced to pull their punches if they know you have made a sincere apology.

One last note, if you are attacked with nasty or vulgar comments, do not respond in kind. Resist the temptation and do not stoop to the other person’s level. Let them look like the classless fool that they are, but not you. Simply delete the comment and block the person from your group. Also, avoid correspondence with people who have an anonymous identity. It is always wise to know who you are conversing with.

In Tucker’s case, he was attacked more for political purposes than what he actually said. He simply left himself exposed and allowed his detractors to hit him square on the chin. All thanks to the power of social media.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at [email protected]

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Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays, 6:00-10:00am Mountain), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Lance Tormey & Brian Teegarden (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

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