Kenneth Cole Makes a Statement.

Indeed he did.

Indeed he did.

It’s his motto. And yes…yes he did.

Within hours of the “Electronic Etiquette” topic on Mike Collins’ Charlotte Talks radio program on WFAE this morning featuring Social Media Charlotte Board member Desiree Kane, a bigger name surfaces on another line…fashion designer Kenneth Cole.

I quipped on twitter this morning following the show that it’s clear opinions on correctness & results for Social Media success vary. Here’s proof.

Mr. Cole (or perhaps someone in charge of running his social media accounts), launched a tweet that spent the day offending many, garnishing supporters for his attempt at “humor” and sending the electronic world into a riot of its own.

Mr. Cole (or his organization) quickly realized his/their skills as a stand up comic were lacking and more offensive than Andrew Dice Clay on a good day, and removed the twitter post followed by a written apology post on Facebook.


My favorite from my twitter search on the topic is “Looks like the 23 year old running the account is getting fired.” This reflects the sentiment of the hotly debated topic from a month ago at the the “2011 Charlotte Marketing Forecast”.  Lori Wilks (Sales & Marketing at NASCAR Hall of Fame) caught flack from the PR and Marketing Pros in attendance for basically saying that the best social media professionals to use are typically 20-year-old interns. You can see the fall out from that discussion HERE.

So, what have we learned here today Children?

Don’t let a communication novice handle a job that requires professional insight. This may be your generation’s technology, but it still has the rules of your Father’s Marketing and PR rules of engagement.

If you are fortunate enough to get a job for a company where you have the honor of engaging on ANY level with the customers of your employer, then you’d better learn the basic people skills both on and off the grid. Know who you’re talking to. Does it reflect poorly or positively on you to say it, and most of all how does it reflect on the company? When in doubt, DON’T!

Once you’ve sent it, it’s out there so think! Then think some more before you press that button – especially if you’re as big and known as Kenneth Cole. Try leaving your initial impulse to be a smart ass or witty alone. If you still think it’s O.K. to post in 30 minutes, then take your chances. It’s only your job and a company’s reputation at stake.

Is this going to hurt Kenneth Cole’s shoe sales?  I sincerely doubt it.  Will he get publicity from it? Yes.

Check out the parody twitter account that was set up by someone and is garnishing mass followers at KC’s expense.

I suspect it will be forgotten in a couple of weeks, but these faux pas at other’s expense are always great reminders that just when you get comfortable with your audience, customers or anything for that matter, is usually when you take it for granted and screw it up by making a bad decision you can’t reverse.

What is your company doing to insure social media hiccups like this doesn’t happen?

2 thoughts on “Kenneth Cole Makes a Statement.

  • Nice post, Nathan! I posted about this mishap today too and jokingly speculated that an intern was at the helm (though mostly in light of recent industry conversations).

    Though I do know plenty of 23 year olds with a good grasp of ‘appropriate’ and ‘inappropriate’ web behavior, I agree that someone with experience (or a demonstrable history of good judgment in public communications) should be in charge of vetting and approving content. One by one these corporate giants end up with egg on their face, validating our work and reigniting our passion for what we do.

    I don’t think the impact of Kenneth Cole’s tweet will have a severe, long term impact on company sales or will remain ‘newsworthy’ for long, but it won’t be completely detached from the company’s reputation soon either. That tweet will echo for a while…

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