There is a rule provided to political candidates and elected officials by savvy communication advisors – don’t say, publish or post anything unless you would be happy to see the quote on the front page of the national newspaper. Even more true with social media, where it is not only reporters judging what should be publicized, but the public reading, sharing and commenting.
Pat Martin has been the Member of Parliament for the riding of Winnipeg Central (New Democratic Party) since 1997, and one of the more outspoken MPs, not only in terms of the issues he champions, which often go against party policy, but in the ‘colorful’ language employed. (See Wkipedia – Pat Martin)
Knowing that in advance, it was rather surprising to see his Twitter stream from the past few days, which included a number of swear words, including some messages directed at reporters. The screen shot below…(excerpted from www.politwitter.ca)
Hacked Twitter accounts are nothing new for politicians, or anyone else for that matter. At first glance the most recent message could be construed as someone else
either having taken over Pat Martin’s Twitter account (a hack), or having access, and acting as him. However, this post to “@LettingSmokeOut fuck you #ndp #cdnpoli” was a direct reply to this conversation thread…
(from) @LettingSmokeOut (Responses to @PatMartinMP) slur have been along ideologies. Also like #occupy vs #teaparty. How far our standards fallen. #cdnpoli #Honour
2 hours ago
(from) @LettingSmokeOut”@PatMartinMP: fuck you #cdnpoli” Does an MP who speaks like that to a fellow Canadian deserve to be called “Honourable”? #sunnewsnetwork
4 hours ago
(from) @LettingSmokeOut@PatMartinMP Sad how a foul mouth socialist capitalizes “Budget” but not “god” #ndp #cdnpoli
Earlier in the day Mr. Martin posted
“This is a fucking disgrace…closure again. And on the Budget! There’s not a democracy in the world that would tolerate this jackboot shit”
– again, on first glance of the stream it appears someone else is posting in the account until you look at the previous days…
On Sunday November 13th at 12:15pm Pat Martin posted to @TabathaSouthey– a Globe and Mail columnist
“this version has been sanitized. The loony shit defending cover-up and trivializing sexual abuse of kids has been pulled”
In between the tweets containing what some might describe as offensive language, are more mainstream messages discussing sports, art, government policy etc. but notably not the usual fluff most politicians post – such as ‘where I am’, ‘we did this’, which, for a political watcher, is rather refreshing. Pat Martin is not a prolific user of Twitter – he tends to post a few messages on certain days going back to July 2011, with days in between having no action.
For those starting out on social media, and seeking advice from communication consultants, the goal for personal profile accounts is to try and achieve a natural voice. Put your message in the terms you would do face to face. That nuance of language is how we subtly differentiate ourselves from the thousands of others. The caveat of course, is the viral nature of social media – a message can go viral to thousands of readers very quickly – and, it’s permanent. Unless Pat Martin can prove his account was taken over by someone else, without his permission, and those posts are not his, they will live on further than his political career, and may say more about his personality than any press conference.
Will it hurt? Since the F’bomb posts the afternoon of November 16th, the general reaction has been mixed, at least by initial responses…(see right image)