Netflix's Twitter Snafu

By Matter

The devil is in the details.  That’s a phrase you hear thrown around quite a bit, particularly in PR.  There are so many details that you have to “get right” when you’re doing a PR campaign, launch, pitch, executive briefing book – that even the smallest mistake can have major repercussions.

Today, Netflix announced what some are calling an “abrupt” change in strategy.  And while it may seem abrupt to consumers, every communications professional knows that there were endless hours spent on the topic and corresponding items:  crafting CEO Reed Hasting’s letter to customers, writing and planning the blog post, messaging around the re-naming of the DVD-mailing service to Qwikster, planning for media inquiries, reserving the domain, preparing to scan for the tone of coverage in the media and on social media platforms like Twitter, wait…Twitter? Was Twitter on the to-do check list? Did the team think about how they would use Twitter and the Qwikster name? Or did the communications team forget to address it?

Whatever conversations did (or didn’t) happen around Twitter don’t really matter at this point, because Qwikster is now getting almost as much attention for the person who owns the Twitter handle. And while the owner doesn’t have any bio information on his profile, it became very clear very qwikly that the person behind the @Qwikster handle is not from Netflix’s communications team – that is, unless Netflix is suddenly a big fan of Sesame Street and marijuana – which I’m guessing isn’t the case.   Ultimately, this oversight won’t hurt Netflix’s business and it will likely be quickly forgotten – but it doesn’t help the perception that Netflix made these strategic decisions hastily.   And, we all know, perception IS reality when it comes to PR.

When something like this happens, I always feel a pit in my stomach thinking about the PR person who is most likely responsible for *not* catching it.   Because that person is having a bad day.  That person is cursing the devil and his details.  And probably Elmo too.