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TalkSPORT and Twitter’s separation of convenience

TalkSPORTToday, sports radio station TalkSPORT announced it had suspended working ties with Twitter. There will be no mentions of Twitter on air and no tweets from the station or its people until further notice.

The move is in response to a debate in the UK sparked by footballer and TalkSPORT presenter Stan Collymore who has accused Twitter of not doing more to combat the publication of hateful and threatening tweets.

Collymore found himself on the receiving end of such messages after he made a controversial point about a football match that I don’t fully understand. I have no interest in football. My local side is Portsmouth.

Of course, Twitter is unique in social media in that you can always unfollow people whose stuff you don’t wish to see in your timeline but, that protection aside, online abuse is a serious matter and TalkSPORT is taking the moral high ground by backing its man.

The latest twist is also a well-timed PR manoeuvre from tactical master Scott Taunton, TalkSPORT’s CEO.

It follows the textbook social media technique of inserting yourself into the story at the right point of the interest curve to maximise gains, backing the right horse (poor victimised Mr Collymore versus a corporate behemoth and the braying masses it encourages) and picking a fight you know you can’t lose.

Social media consultants and PR agencies contrive such attempts often for their clients but Earshot Creative understands that today’s move is entirely Scott’s own work.

We’ll know by tomorrow how much media publicity he’s achieved for his station but today’s move cost virtually nothing so he can expect a sold return on investment. Indeed, TalkSPORT partners the Daily Mail have already carried the story and, quelle surprise, dripped in some hatred for the BBC.

Of course any concession later in this episode from Twitter, however slim, will signal victory in the wider debate for TalkSPORT.

So what can we learn? Radio stations have to be ready to seize the opportunities around public debate. They must move fast when the time is right. They must add themselves to the story in such as way that increases the jeopardy involved. They must adopt an unassailable position.

If this works for TalkSPORT I hope they build on it. A campaigning angle quite suits the station.

UPDATE – Friday 14 March

Well that lasted longer than I expected. TalkSPORT returned to Twitter with this business-as-usual tweet after nearly two months away during which its visibility on social media was seriously impaired. The ban couldn’t go on forever and the station says it has secured some results. Not from Twitter, but from the UK Government. That’s enough to claim victory and get back to business.

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