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Millions in Uproar Over @KennethCole on #Twitter; Rumor Is, He's a D*ck

Dear Kenneth Cole (KCP):

You're a smart guy. And you're all about "awearness," or so the formation of your nonprofit would lead us to believe. So why in the world would you go and tweet something as stupid as this:

Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online at http://bit.ly/KCairo -KC
The public outrage on Twitter was immediate and hostile from http://twitter.com/search/KennethCole heavy media hitters and average tweeps alike:
arrington Michael Arrington WTF is wrong with you, @KennethCole ?

hblodget Henry Blodget Hey, @kennethcole, who's the idiot who sent this tweet? Has he/she been fired yet? http://read.bi/hdMVmj
SoullaLindo Soulla Lindo Bad taste @KennethCole. Bad. Taste.

palbi palbi @kennethcole is the asshole of the day http://bit.ly/g8Lypc

And the blogosphere filled with slings and arrows shortly thereafter.

To your credit -- or the avalanche of @replies -- you issued this quasi-apology an hour later:

Re Egypt tweet: we weren't intending to make light of a serious situation. We understand the sensitivity of this historic moment -KC
But for today the damage is done. In case you're wondering, "How might I do this better next time?" here are a few pointers. Brand managers, you may begin taking notes now.

Learn from others' past mistakes
There's a reason the chestnut, "those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it," exists. It's sage advice. Two years ago the UK-based retailer Habitat hijacked popular hashtags in effort to boost their Twitter presence.

Not only were they irrelevant to the retailer's message of discount promotions (20 percent off Spring collection! #apple #mms) or gift cards (#Mousjavi) but those tweets drew serious fire from users. No wonder. People searching for news about the uprising in Iran did not welcome spam product promotion in the feed. Even though @HabitatUK deleted the bad tweets and issued an apology, that evidence of the company's poor judgement is still out there for anyone who cares to do a cached search.

Bone up on world history and current events
Read the news and stay on top of strife in all parts of the world. Faithful readers of BNET will remember what happened to Rodarte's Mulleavy sisters when they picked makeup names associated with a Mexican town best known for rapes and murders of hundreds of young women. MAC Cosmetics turned the misstep into a fundraising opportunity. But it would have been better not to cross that controversial line at all.

In KC's case, the situation in Egypt is explosive and could continue to get a whole lot worse. It's no laughing matter.

Tweet responsibly
Among Econsultancy's 10 social media guidelines is to "always pause for a moment in private before you reply in public." Though KC's off-the-cuff humor is best when spontaneous, you simply shouldn't press send until you're sure what you said is appropriate for the hundreds of thousands of potential customers out there.

Apologize immediately if you f**k up
Several minutes ago, Kenneth Cole issued an official apology on his Facebook wall. It was the right thing to do, even though lots of people are still pissed -- and potentially lost as customers. I.e., Daniel "i just through (sic) my KC shoes and pretty boy pants away" Machok's comment on Cole's status update.

Kenneth Cole, there is one thing that stands out in your favor amid this hot mess. That's the fact that you didn't try to pass the buck to one of your minions. You've qualified on your stream, "Thoughts that end in -KC are from me personally; others are behind the seams insights from my inspiring associates." Not hiding behind an employee is at least a little less sh*t on your square-toed shoe.

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