• David Johnson

A tweet is NOT a communication strategy

Updated: Dec 2, 2018

The other day I was organizing the books in my library and trying to decide which ones to keep and which ones I should donate to the local Goodwill.

During my tidying up, I came across one of the first PR books I had ever purchased. It is called Press releases are not a PR strategy, and written by Linda VandeVrede.

I opened it up and flipped to Chapter 12, which shared the same title as the book and about half-way into the chapter the author posed a question. “Why is PR not press releases?”

Here’s her answer.

“Well, press releases are merely one tiny arrow in a very full quiver of tools that should be implemented as part of an overall strategy.”

VandeVrede’s advice was spot-on.

In her recent blog post, Social Media is Not the Answer to Your Problems, Sharon Miller shares a story about an owner of a pizza parlor who thinks that social media is what he needs to be a success.

Don’t laugh, but he’s is not alone in his thinking.

Just as a press release is not the answer, neither is a tweet. As Miller contends, social media is not a “quick-fix” nor is it a “Hail-Mary.”

I am sure many of you PR types reading this get it, but what about business owners, such as the pizza parlor owner who doesn’t.

It is not surprising that there are businesses and organizations that operate with the mindset that tweeting at 10 am, noon, 2 pm, and 4 pm everyday is a communication strategy.

Don’t get me wrong. It is a strategy, just not a well thought out one.

Random tweets, similar to pushing out a news release, don’t necessarily equate to quality engagement unless they link to a strategy and answer the question, “Why are we doing this?”

Without a sound strategy to attract and engage audiences, those tweets are simply noise.

The current communication landscape offers so many channels and platforms to choose from, it can be exhausting when it comes to knowing which one or ones to use.

The decision is really dependent on who you’re trying to reach. Where does your target audience hangout? Is it Twitter? Facebook? YouTube?

Before deciding what channel or platform to use to tell your story, you have to a have sense of what the “big picture” looks like. This is also part of the strategy. Remember, “Why are we doing this?”

How do your communication tactics fit into the big picture?

Understanding what this big picture lens looks like is the first step to communicating with purpose. And communicating with purpose simply means that your actions are tied to a strategy with a desired outcome. It doesn’t mean tweeting randomly in hope someone will bite. FYI, they usually never bite.

Key here is that we shouldn’t forget that communication should always be viewed from audience’s perspective.

In their book, Putting the Public back in Public Relations, Brian Solis and Deirdre Breakenridge state the following:

“When you look at groups of people respectively, you’re focused to change your migration path to them. Each group is influenced, inspired, and driven by unique channels and communities. Figuring out who you want to reach, why they matter to you, and why you matter to them is the minimum ante required to buy into this game. The next step is to reverse-engineer this process of where they go for their information and discussions to learn how to reach them.”

By the way, I also came across this book during my library clean-up, and the advice Solis and Breakenridge give is still very relevant 10 years later. This book is staying put!

So, before you post that tweet, remember that there is no one channel or platform that will push your target audience to take action. Instead, take a step back and ask yourself, “As a result of this, my audience will…”


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