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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Twitter, mwitter!

Let's get this straight: Politics aside, I love Turkey. But when I see a juicy media story, I have to pounce.

I’ve been peddling media, media campaigns and the like for nearly thirty years – geez, if I wasn’t having so much fun I would say I’m getting pretty old. Let me tell you this, it would be tough to recall a worse week in the media than Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had.

I can see him coming home the other day to an inquisitive wife, “So how was your day honey?”

Erdoğan’s reply may have gone something like this: “I really don’t f*****g like social media.”

Her reply also might have been, “You’re the boss. Do something about it.”

And just like that, using the some of the same terrible advice President Clinton used when he went on national television and proclaimed he “didn’t have sexual relations with that woman”, the Turkish iron fist came down and blocked Twitter and banned YouTube.

Who could have guessed(*) that the top worldwide trending Twitter hashtag Thursday would have been something like this: #DictatorErdoğan.
(*) SIDE NOTE: By the way, I would have guessed this would happen. I remember my first trip to Syria in 2009. There I was at a Syrian Tourism Department a press conference. [Yes Syria had a tourism department long ago. I was one of their public relations stars and was able to get their USA-imposed travel warning lifted eighteen months prior to the start of their civil war. (Yeah, yeah, I know!…they should have listened a little bit more.) Anyway, at this presser, my friend and colleague, Ally Miola (editor of Business Traveler magazine) implored the Syrian Minister of Tourism, Dr. Saadallah Agha Alqalah, to lift their Facebook ban because Syria was “better than that.” Of course that immediately prompted him to end everything right then and there. Months later Facebook was lifted. I mean, even Syria knew than banning social media was badness. Bottom line, have media savvy advisers around you and good things happen. Have ignorant media advisers around you and bad things happen…it’s that simple.
Yet I digress.

Guy Fawkes masks used to have a higher Q rating that many PMs.
So I’m guessing now that Erdoğan’s week didn't go quite the way he envisioned it. Why? Because before Thursday, most people on our little blue planet barely knew his name. As a matter fact, I would wager that those little funny masks every would-be rebel is wearing had a better Q-rating that Erdoğan. Instead #DictatorErdoğan sent millions of non-Turks scrambling to Wikipedia to figure out which new bad guy on the block was trying to force his way into the infamously elite club of Social Media Blockers started by the collective of Iran, Egypt and North Korea.

But let us not be too harsh on Erdoğan's (wink). How about we visit his top arguments against social media:
  • “Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have to respect the Turkish Republic's laws...Turkey is not a banana republic.”
  • “We won’t allow the people to be devoured by YouTube, Facebook or others."
  • "We will not leave this nation at the mercy of YouTube and Facebook"
  • “I cannot understand how sensible people still defend Facebook, YouTube and Twitter...they run all kinds of lies.”
  • "If Twitter, Youtube and Facebook will be honest; if they'll stop being so immoral, stop attacking families, we'll support them."
  • “We now have a court order... We’ll eradicate Twitter. I don’t care what the international community says. Everyone will witness the power of the Turkish Republic.”
…and my personal favorite…

“Twitter, mwitter!”

That being said, I’m still buying a flat in Bodrum, Turkey as soon as humanly possible. Sorry, you won’t be seeing my Instagram posts, most likely. 

FINAL NOTE: Dear Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, if you want some of my seasoned media strategies, just reach out. I am happy to help.

Glorious Bodrum, Turkey

UPDATE (5/21/14): Apparently, this ousted PayPal exec didn't read this column. Ugh...think twice before hitting the send button!