As the saying goes: be careful who you assign to manage your reputation--because your reputation is everything.
This could be considered wise counsel to the folks at Chrysler who handed over their Twitter account to a social media agency called New Media Strategies.
It seems that the agency let an employee tweet for Chrysler (mistake #1).
The employee, for whatever reason, thought it wise to drop the F-bomb onto Chrysler's account yesterday (misstake #2).
In quick response, Chrysler promptly fired the agency today, by not renewing its contract with the agency (smart move #1).
Congratulations to Chrysler for taking back the keys to their brand reputation.
Here's the Tweet: "I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to fucking drive."
NMS fired the employee, but not before they tarnished both the reputation of Chrysler and the agency itself.
The agency's CEO, Peter Snyder posted on his company's website: "New Media Strategies regrets this unfortunate incident. It certainly doesn't accurately reflect the overall high-quality work we have produced for Chrysler. We respect their decision and will work with them to ensure an effective transition of this business going forward."
The statement seems to not acknowledge what a social media agency should know: an "accurate reflection" can be an oxymoron in a world where perception is everything.
Clients and agencies need to watch who they hand-over the keys to their brand reputation. Many agencies work under financial models which require them to hire low-paid, inexperienced talent to handle front-line work for their clients, such as media relations, and social media. The failure of this model is realized when the client or agency discovers that by doing so, they've handed-over one of their most valuable assets--their reputation, to someone unqualified to know how easily they could destroy a company.
Remember, people listen to the words that a little bird can tweet in their ear.