Tweet Wisely

Why Trump-Style media bullying on Twitter could backfire for fund managers.

The immediacy and potential power of social media can be an intoxicating avenue for financial services managers to undertake. Still, that does not mean it is something they should do.  That is because building relationships with key editors and reporters often takes long-term planning and execution; and a single tweet could easily tear apart all of that good will. Financial services managers seeking to enhance the social media presence of themselves and of their firms are best served leaving the strategy and execution to their communications pros.

Writing under the handle @TruthGundlach, renowned fixed income asset manager Jeffrey Gundlach has adopted a particularly antagonizing tone toward none other than The Wall Street Journal. He has accused the respected news platform of being so-called “fake news,” amongst other things.  “Somewhat surprised WSJ ran a story so pointless, so illogical, so poorly written and -not that it matters- significantly inaccurate. Onward!,” wrote the founder of DoubleLine Capital on Aug. 20th.

Gundlach, and anyone else for that matter, are certainly entitled to and have the right to defend themselves especially when they feel falsehoods about them are being unfairly perpetuated. The potential problem, however, is that in being so direct and combative managers could very well be burning bridges with important and influential financial journalists, editors and entire news organizations they will need at some point to help burnish thought leadership and public profiles with positive news coverage.  For investors with reputations for thinking long-term about their next exit and fundraise, fighting with influencers at news outlets like The Wall Street Journal with angry social media posts is incredibly short-sighted.

Communications firms have their fingers on the pulse of news coverage and understand how to best leverage social media to deliver optimal results for clients. What’s more, communications firms provide an extra layer of protection for clients and can professionally run interference when needed.

The point of social media and the long-term communications strategies behind it is not to be able to say “gotcha” in response to every single perceived slight; rather, the goal is to use the power of the various platforms and mediums to build public profiles in the collective minds eyes of key constituencies. In the case of financial services, that includes potential clients and investors. All of whom typically take a low-key posture with the press.

Gundlach may very well find his new approach toward The Wall Street Journal to reap short term rewards in the form of kudos from particular segments within today’s social media climate, but it is doubtful tweets such as this will establish long-term positive coverage from the world’s most influential financial news organization. Financial services managers could find picking a fight with outlets like The Wall Street Journal will ultimately lead to deleterious outcomes in the form of fleeing investors who find negative news coverage distasteful, unnecessarily burdensome and counterproductive to success. In a word, managers should #ThinkBeforeTheyTweet