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Amazon is clapping back at politicians on Twitter

19 June 2019

From The Washington Post:

Amazon’s public relations Twitter account is starting to look a lot more like a political rapid response unit as the retailer increasingly becomes a punching bag for Democrats.

The company clapped back yesterday at Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and defended its $15 minimum wage for workers after she criticized Amazon chief executive and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos for paying people “starvation wages” in an interview over the weekend.

. . . .

That’s part of a broader pattern: The company has also sought to fact-check statements from 2020 hopefuls in between tweets promoting one-day shipping and its Kindle devices. It disputed former vice president Joe Biden’s comments last week about how much it pays in taxes and pushed back in April on Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s criticism of its treatment of competing sellers on its platform.

. . . .

This is a marked change from the traditional tech industry strategy to keep an arms-length from the daily political debate and wait out 24-hour news cycles. But Amazon appears to be realizing that a quiet playbook doesn’t work as the concentration of corporate power becomes a key 2020 issue for Democrats on the campaign trail — who have no qualms with singling out specific companies.

“[Amazon] can’t afford to be passive about it,” said Larry Parnell, an associate professor of strategic public relations at George Washington University. “Corporate America is finding that engaging in the political process — like it or not — is part of doing business.”

. . . .

For Amazon, Twitter could be an avenue to quickly set the record straight when they feel prominent politicians are spreading false information about the company.

“Amazon is simply correcting the record when high-profile candidates or elected officials make statements about the company that are either incorrect or misleading,” said a person familiar with the company’s thinking. “Errors and misunderstandings become accepted truths if they go uncorrected.”

Link to the rest at The Washington Post

PG says this is (or should be) basic corporate public relations in 2019. He understands that a great many large well-known business organizations besides Amazon have rapid response teams that operate 24/7 to reply to and/or rebut social media criticism as quickly as possible.

PG would not be surprised if at least some of these teams include both official company spokespeople and those not formally associated with the company but who can also quickly act to generate additional online rebuttal messages. If you’re worried about potentially damaging effects from a Twitter mob, you might want to have your own Twitter mob on call.

Like him and the tone of his communications or not, Donald Trump works social media in a manner that PG thinks is effective (if not tasteful, dignified or suited to the office of the President). His tweets are eminently quotable, make news and frame political discussions. In the online universe, he can’t be ignored or overwhelmed by a digital mob.

Like it or not, Amazon is a large target for criticism from a wide variety of individuals and organizations. It can’t prevent criticism, justified or not, but a rapid response can help prevent an online assault from breaking out into the rest of the world with a lot of momentum.

Anyone who asks, “What does Amazon say about this?” should be able to obtain a quick answer. If Amazon doesn’t have an answer, human nature and mob psychology will assume the company is hiding something that reflects badly upon it.


Amazon, Social Media

7 Comments to “Amazon is clapping back at politicians on Twitter”

  1. Ooh, a TPV political post that mentions both Trump and AOC! I can’t wait to see how reasonable and measured the comments on it are. It’s like going on a parenting message board and posting about whether or not it’s okay to spank your child.

  2. Whatever your opinions of Amazon, Trump, or Ocasio-Cortez are, the notion that a minimum of $15 an hour constitutes “starvation wages” (side note: working full-time, fifty weeks a year, this comes out to $30,000 a year) means one of two things: either A. you have no idea what starvation actually looks like; or B. the cost of living in your area is way too high, and you might want to look at what’s causing that.

    • Felix J. Torres

      “Somehow” wage complaints never factor in regional cost of living variations. All calculations are made as if the northeast corridor is normal and everyplace else irrelevant.

  3. Although it is hard to accept, I find it interesting that Trump can be safely regarded as the most effective user in the Twitterverse if you start your comment with something implying that it’s an unacceptable situation.

    • Some find it unacceptable that Trump is so effective.

      And Amazon? As Amazon was looking at activists and anti-trust problems down the road, Bezos decided to alienate the other camp. He bet, lost, and keeps losing. Now everyone is out to get Amazon. Not sure how that helped anything.

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