The perils of social media: A lesson learned

Twitter can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Celebrities can build and maintain their own brands without the main stream media and get relevant information straight to their fans (or the aforementioned mainstream media) without the need of doing countless interviews or writing press releases (unless one considers 140 characters the new press release).

When things are good, things are very good. And when they’re bad, things get very bad.

Take the recent case of former UFC fighter Todd Duffee. After sky rocketing to prominence with a seven second knockout victory (the fastest in the promotions history) over Tim Hague at UFC 102, Duffee found himself on the unemployment line this week following a loss to Mike Russow at UFC 114.

And here’s where things get sticky.

ESPN reporter Josh Gross originally tweeted that Duffee’s manager stated that the cut from the UFC was “unfortunate, but Todd’s an ass.”

Both Gross and Duffee’s manager clarified their original statements (which I’ll paste below). However, this latest blunder reveals the high risk/high reward nature of Twitter. In our 24 hour news cycle, the insistence that journalist “be first” with a story has taken precedence over “being right.” As a journalist or a future PR person, I prefer being right over printing or issuing retractions.

MMA Payout posted a synopsis of the entire situation that sums this up quite nicely.

Josh Gross’ correction (which was tweeted a day after the original inaccurate quote hit the net):

QUOTE CORRECTION — If you picked up the Alex Davis quote regarding Todd Duffee yesterday, please make note of the following.

Davis: “It’s unfortunate, but Todd’s an ASSET and he will keep on fighting. He is a young kid and gets a lot of attention.”

The following is the statement released by Duffee’s manager, Alex Davis:

“My original comment was that it was an unfortunate situation for Todd but that he can be an assetto other promotions and will keep on fighting.  He is still young and will continue to receive a lot of attention.

The reporter has admitted he misquoted me and issued his own retraction.  It was an unfortunate mistake, but there are no hard feelings.

I tried hard to help Todd avoid the cut, but the UFC has the right to terminate a fighter’s contract and they chose to do so in this situation.  He is still a very viable talent and I look forward to updating the MMA media and fans about the next opportunities in Todd’s career.”

Better safe than sorry. The moral of the story is quite simple: Damage control is more time consuming than getting your message right the first time around.

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