The Power of Twitter

The folks over at the Daily Mail seem to have taken time out from telling us that we're going to get cancer from eating.....well just about anything and have seemingly annoyed businessman Duncan Bannatyne of Dragon's Den fame. And it's not only the Daily Mail that has felt Bannatyne's rath in this intriguing use of social media.

It all started when the Daily Mail released an article which featured Sharon Wright of Talpa Products. Sharon visited the Den last year, you may remember she had an invention which allowed wires to be poked through holes easily called MagnaMole. If I remember correctly she came up with the idea after having Sky fitted. She came across very well, I think she had a couple of offers and eventually she opted for James and Duncan as her new business partners.

I'll let you read the article but things since then didn't work out, the deal came to an end and things have turned a bit sour. Bannatyne first responded through his Twitter feed at @duncanbannatyne - his lawyers were on the case due to sloppy journalism and openly responded to tweets from followers asking questions, even publishing the contract on his blog.

It was at this time that Kate Pritchard at Real Business (@real_business) thought it would be a good idea to poach the Daily Mail article and question Duncan Bannatyne's integrity on her own blog. This lead to an already disgrunted Bannatyne asking "How trustworthy is Kate Prichard who writes for Real Business?" on his Twitter feed, angry that she hadn't checked the facts with him first. This lead to ongoing dialogue between the two and a flapping Kate Pritchard forced to update her blog and tweet feed with grovelling, cringeworthy apologies to Bannatyne.

All the while Sharon Wright, who is also on Twitter (@sharon_wright), decided to promote her side of the story (that is if you can actually understand a word she is saying). Bannatyne's fast and open reaction on Twitter had put him at a good advantage as people drove to Wright's twitter feed to open their opinions many negative that was looking for fame and money. Wright responded angrily to these people, perhaps throwing more coal into an already burning fire. Wright claims the money from the article went to a charity.

James Caan had been slow to react but today released a statement on his website which was clear, positive and honest about the situation. Wright's response on Twitter was of discontent claiming "STATEMENT JAMES HAS SENT OUT IS INCORRECT, MY LAWYERS WILL ADVISE wht I cn & CANT SAY, SO I dnt INCRIMANATE MYSELF, ths IS FAR FROM THE END".

While for an outsider this was all very juicy, what can we learn from this mess? 1) The power that social media has. The fact that Duncan Bannatyne, within minutes, was able to personally control the situation whilst on holiday. He was able to be open, answer questions and stop any more untruths from spreading. He was able to stop a damaging situation from developing on a business entrepreneur blog. This would never have happened offline. 2) Always get your facts right. Social media is great due to the amount of information available but just how correct is the information your receiving/using. 3) It's all about speed. The faster you react the better, deal with questions politely but if you're unsure take a deep breath, get advice first and issue a quality statement. 4) That having a crisis PR strategy is crucial not just offline but also online. I've been reading about this at work with our clients recently and it is really interesting.

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