In another controversy-filled week which included Russia, climate change and James Comey, the nation’s attention was briefly distracted by Donald Trump’s midnight Twitter burp: “Despite the constant negative press covfefe”. Commentators struggled to interpret the word’s meaning, memes swamped the internet, and the word provided mega-material for late-night comedians. Most concluded the president probably dozed off at the keyboard, but not before hitting “tweet.”
It’s generally agreed that Mr. Trump might be a lot better off if he’d just stop tweeting. While he contends that Twitter allows him to talk directly to his constituents, his tweets have regularly led to self-inflicted controversy. Often they contain misspellings and typos, offering ammunition for mockery and credibility concerns. There were lines including “the possibility of lasting peach,” and “no challenge is to great,” plus the words “honered,” attaker” and “unpresidented.”
Of course, Trump isn’t alone in misspelling and hitting “send” before proofreading social media content. Yahoo Finance tweeted an awful mistake in January when someone typed “bigger” but used an “n” instead of a “b.” In February, the U.S. Department of Education, led by newly-confirmed Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, tweeted two incorrect messages, first misspelling civil rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois’ name as “DeBois” and then posting, “Our deepest apologizes for the earlier typo.”
Sometimes it’s an inappropriate image that creates problems. To celebrate July 4th in 2014, American Apparel tweeted a photo of a spectacular explosion. But they mistakenly used the iconic image of the tragic explosion of space shuttle Challenger. In the wake of the Manchester, England bombing in May, Kim Kardashian posted a picture of herself partying with Ariana Grande and tweeted, “I love you,” but after getting negative feedback added a message of sympathy for the victims. And last week, comedian Kathy Griffin tearfully apologized for tweeting a tasteless image of herself holding a fake, bloodied, decapitated head of Donald Trump.
Content and context is too important when using social media, and there’s little room for sloppiness or poor taste. Proofreading is essential — especially because in public relations, it can avoid the mistake of a costly covfefe. Your thoughts?