The National Hockey League’s Los Angeles Kings are known to be one of the most savvy users of Twitter in the league and all of professional sports. They seem to have mastered the art of providing information with a cheeky edge that keeps fans interested. However, an offensive post earlier this week went too far according to some and may have caused the team to lose its crown.
The Kings invited local radio host Kevin Ryder to guest tweet from the team’s official Twitter account during the second period of Tuesday night’s playoff game. The risky publicity stunt backfired for the Kings when Ryder reportedly tweeted: “Galiardi gets a penalty for running over Quick. Power play Kings. Kopitar just got sexually assaulted in front of Niemi. [email protected]”
While the tweet was attributed by Ryder, it was still sent from the team’s official handle. In a swift and smart PR move, the Kings realized the tweet was inappropriate and quickly deleted it. But not before it received more than 60 retweets and several screen grabs that would haunt the team.
Unfortunately, the Kings’ rebound efforts temporarily stalled after the deletion of the tweet. Ryder was allowed to continue hosting the account for the remainder of the period, and it took the team more than 30 minutes to issue an apology. While live updating from a playoff game to more than 200,000 followers, 30 minutes is a lifetime. Though well-stated, the apology seemed to be too little, too late.
Though it doesn’t appear that the Kings’ Twitter following has taken a huge hit from this week’s gaffe, the team certainly learned a powerful lesson about the importance of keeping control of its social media. As we know all too well in crisis PR, it takes years to build a reputation and only seconds to destroy it, especially in the age of social media.