One of the finesse tactics of PR is to know when to shut up. It might seem like a company’s PR team has to always reply to each statement made about them, but that’s not true. Rumors, pretend-news from sources with no credibility, these require no reply whatsoever, as an official company statement would just validate them and point other more relevant sources to the up to then false problem.

Another case just popped out while browsing the TechCrunch feed today. What started like an observation about numbers of Twitter followers of AT&T and Verizon turned into a cat fight of acid remarks from both companies. As the Techcrunch author pointed out, the fact that the two companies responded was quite a surprise. In today’s Twitter exchange, silence was a smarter move for both companies. Now they either look like frustrated old ladies fighting over their picked fences or like small children poking each other, pointing fingers and laughing.

It is simple: if someone says you have less followers than a competitor, your reply should not be pointing out what they’re doing wrong… Yes, a lot of people might agree followers need a medium to complain, but after complaining to AT&T, why stick to following them if there is no value to be considered?

Also, when attacked, getting on a high horse and pointing out how Verizon does a poor job on their Facebook and Twitter accounts makes you look bad, because you should spend more time convincing people complaining is not the only reason to follow you… It might not be the truth, but if that’s how Twitter sees you, then there’s something wrong with your image that needs fixing.

Why is silence the best option? Because there are too little chances of Verizon replying in some face saving way to the fact they have less followers than a competitor and because AT&T has even less chances of responding without sounding like they are bragging. And anyway, it shows lack of respect for the other company’s followers.

And now we get to the actual treasure on our map! Those who follow your competitor are potential customers. Stating in any way it’s silly to follow your competitor shows you don’t think highly of them. Disrespect, as far as I know, is never a good weapon when you want to attract customers away from your competitors.

There is no room for pride games on Twitter! And it might be acceptable to just tweet while enraged or while you’re to full of yourself in the case of an inexperienced, small company with a short-fused CEO. But when it comes to big names like Verizon and AT&T, they should know better!

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