Advice for Brands From Twitter’s ‘Translator in Chief’

Twitter's editorial director says she pushes for more openness internally

The woman who once shaped the voice of Google, and now does the same for Twitter, had this to say to brands: Even when you fail, be as transparent as possible.

“The more you can have upfrontness with your audience, the better off you’re going to be in the long run when you have failure, when you have something you backtracked on, when you made a mistake,” said Karen Wickre, Twitter’s editorial director, during a panel on “brand journalism” at South by Southwest.

“You have stumbles, you have mistakes as a company,” she continued. “But being off message would be to ignore or deny it. To face the problem, that is actually being on message. Or should be.”

When the fail whale surfaces at Twitter because of technical issues, it falls to Wickre and her team to gather the information and translate it into English, she said—prompting her co-panelist Jesse Noyes, corporate reporter for marketing firm Eloqua, to dub her the “translator in chief."

While you can’t communicate the story behind a technical break in real time, she said, she often finds herself pushing her co-workers in PR to open up more.

“I’m often advocating for more information sooner with my PR colleagues,” she said. “They have their reasons for holding off, [and] I get all that. But…to have more bits sooner is my interest.” 

Publish date: March 12, 2012 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT