See the update at the end about how the guy responsible wasn't an intern but is now also not an employee.
ORIGINAL POST, NOV. 1, 2013, 1:06 P.M.:Three hours isn't too soon to use a tragedy as a PR point, right?
That's apparently the question the people behind the official Newport Beach Twitter account asked themselves earlier today when they sent a tweet about how Newport Beach is such a nice vacation spot when compared to the chaos at LAX — chaos that was caused by a shooting that injured seven and killed at least one person.
The tweet was sent at 12:32 p.m. and read “Heading out of town on a weekend getaway via #LAX? Avoid the chaos and make it a beach vacation here in #NewportBeach.”
It was quickly deleted, but not before several followers took the account to town about how tasteless it was. The account's excuse? The people who run the account were “focused on closure and hearing reports of ppl stuck.”
How do you not hear about a shooting at the largest airport in the region three hours after it happened? Especially when you work at a destination marketing organization? Please, let it just be some dumb, uninformed intern.
To the city's credit (very little credit), they do not run the Twitter account directly.
The account is manned by Visit Newport Beach Inc., a non-profit organization that's affiliated with the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce, the Orange County Visitor Association, Discover America, and the Newport Beach Restaurant Association and that contracts with the city. They're funded primarily by Newport's Transient Occupancy Tax — also known as the hotel tax — as well as through membership dues from the hospitality industry.
Tourist tax dollars at work, everybody!
Unluckily for whatever intern that's now no longer manning the social media desk, the Tweet is still completely visible on the VisitNewportBeach website.
Let's see how long it takes them to fix that one.
UPDATE NOV. 5, 8:00 A.M.
The guy responsible wasn't an intern! The person behind the Twitter account at the time of the tweet was former Visit Newport Beach PR Director Jeff Soto–“former” in that he was fired on Monday.
“We are appalled and dismayed by the lack of empathy and judgment conveyed in this communication — posted without proper knowledge of the situation — in light of the tragic events that transpired at LAX that day,” said Visit Newport CEO Gary Sherwin in a statement released Monday. “Our hearts go out to the victims of Friday's airport shooting, their families, and all who have been affected by this attack. Visit Newport Beach, Inc. is built on a platform of core values, including respect and integrity. This careless and regrettable tweet flies in the face of those values and, as such, Mr. Soto's employment with us was terminated as of this morning”
I almost kind of feel sorry the guy. This is the kind of mistake you make in college, not six months into a real, actual job. But hey, at least he won't ever do it again; I hope, anyways.