NYPD Twitter campaign backfires

The largest police department in the U.S. learned the hard way that there are legions online devoted to short-circuiting even the best-intentioned public relations campaign — in this case, the NYPD’s Twitter invitation to people to post feel-good photos of themselves posing with New York’s Finest.

NEW YORK — The largest police department in the U.S. learned the hard way that there are legions online devoted to short-circuiting even the best-intentioned public relations campaign — in this case, the NYPD’s Twitter invitation to people to post feel-good photos of themselves posing with New York’s Finest.

What myNYPD got instead was a montage of hundreds of news images of baton-wielding cops arresting protesters, pulling suspects by the hair, unleashing pepper spray and taking down a bloodied 84-year-old man for jaywalking.

It was a mistake of epic proportions, with the hashtag among the most-trafficked in the world Tuesday, creating a public relations nightmare for a new NYPD leadership intent on creating a more community-friendly force.

“When you’re in the social space, it’s tough to predict what’s going to happen,” said Glen Gilmore, who teaches social media marketing at Rutgers University.

A similar meltdown came last November when investment giant JP Morgan Chase, which had been paying billions in fines stemming from the financial crisis, asked followers on Twitter to post career advice questions. Among them: “Did you have a specific number of people’s lives you needed to ruin before you considered your business model a success?”

McDonald’s inadvertently ordered up some bad publicity in 2012 with its McDStories campaign. Sample response: “I walked into a McDonald’s and could smell the Type II diabetes.”

The myNYPD misfire comes at a time when new Police Commissioner William Bratton is trying to re-brand the department to counter criticism that it has been trampling on people’s civil rights. Last week, it disbanded an intelligence unit that spied on Muslim neighbourhoods, and it has promised to reforms to the crime-fighting tactic known as stop and frisk.

Bratton acknowledged Wednesday that the Twitter campaign may not have been fully thought through.

“Was that particular reaction from the some of the police adversaries anticipated? To be quite frank, it was not,” Bratton said. “But at the same time it’s not going to cause us to change any of our efforts to be very active on social media. … It is what it is. It’s an open, transparent world.”

The myNYPD traffic was holding steady on Wednesday, but the dialogue had shifted from mockery of the NYPD to an analysis of what went wrong, including the tweet “Social Media 101: Be careful what you ask for.”

Anthony Rotolo, a professor of digital communications at Syracuse University, suggested another appropriate response could have been SMH — shake my head.

“A lot of time the eagerness to embrace social media tools overshadows our common sense,” Rololo said. “In other types of media, we would not so quickly jump to something like this without doing our groundwork first.”

Still, there was some evidence Wednesday that the outreach may bear fruit.

One person posted a photo of herself standing next to an officer on horseback in Times Square. Another posted a picture of two smiling officers on patrol and wrote, “These guys put their lives on the line every day. They deserve our respect and gratitude.”

Just Posted

Police is still looking for Second World War army passport owner

No one has claimed a rare Second World War German army passport… Continue reading

Rent subsidies for Asooahum Crossing tenants sought from Red Deer city council

Coun. Lee feels the city should be ‘last resort’ for housing subsidy requests

Castor murderer denies he’s a killer

Jason Klaus tells courtroom he loved his family who were murdered in December 2013

WATCH news on the go: Replay Red Deer Jan. 21

Watch news highlights from Red Deer and Central Alberta

RDC chosen to host 2019 men’s volleyball national championship

Sports enthusiasts in Red Deer will have more to look forward to… Continue reading

Police is still looking for Second World War army passport owner

No one has claimed a rare Second World War German army passport… Continue reading

DJ Sabatoge and TR3 Band kick off Sylvan Lake’s Winterfest 2018

Central Alberta’s youngest DJ will open for TR3 Band kicking off Town… Continue reading

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

WATCH news on the go: Replay Red Deer Jan. 21

Watch news highlights from Red Deer and Central Alberta

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month