Alicia Machado was the winner of the 1996 Miss Universe pageant, but on November 23rd at 8:58:54PM she was concerned about North Korea’s artillery attack on a South Korea and tweeted, “Tonight I want to ask you to join me in a prayer for peace, that these attacks between the Chinas do not make our situation worse.”
Alicia Machado received the usual dose of pointing and laughing that a beautiful beauty-queen receives when she makes a mistake. According to the few mainstream news stories I could find on the subject, what followed was “a flurry of insulting posts” which eventually caused her to throw in the towel on Twitter.
I found the coverage of this story painfully lacking on a number of levels, but mostly because the stories had a sexy image of Alicia and then 2 paragraphs of nothingness. Also, the coverage suggested that there was an unusual amount of vitriol being hurled at Alicia – apparently these are writers who don’t use Twitter much.
There’s one major problem with the concept of closing your account and thinking it will make everything go away… Google. That’s where I found my image of the actual tweet, and Topsy holds on to pretty much every tweet ever sent.
One of her final tweets was, “I now have a lot of psychopaths on the account and it’s best I start another one, kisses,” and she signed off, according to Venezuelan media.
The other problem is that it doesn’t make the problem go away. Now if/when she returns to Twitter, it will reemerge.
I wish Alicia had called me that night to ask for my advice. Here’s what I might have suggested:
- Acknowledge the mistake publicly
- Tweet about what a dumb mistake it was – we all make mistakes
- Shoot a short and if possible, slightly humorous YouTube video in your t-shirt and pajama bottoms explaining why you shouldn’t tweet after a long day
- Start responding to influencers about what just happened and take control of the situation
- Give some media a heads up what’s happening and get YOUR story out
Handling an online reputation crisis isn’t really all that different than a “real life” crisis. The important thing to remember is to stay focused and make sure your side of the events is the side that eventually wins out.