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November 12, 2008

A few days ago Zappos (the shoe store) known for their great customer service and their CEO’s usage of social media announced an 8% reduction in their workforce. Why is that interesting? you ask. It’s interesting because of the way  Zappos’ CEO, Tony Sieh, decided to share this information with the rest of the world. He chose Twitter, the microblogging tool to keep the rest of the world abreast of what was going on at his company on November 6th, 2008 (see Twitter stream below for details).

Early in the morning Tony posted his first tweet indicating that “an emotional day”  was happening at Zappos on that day. In a couple of hours he again used Twitter to share a link to his corporate blog where a full copy of the letter to Zappos employees was posted explaining the reason for layoffs.

Tony finished the day with another  post mentioning the culture of Zappos and the fact that both present and former Zappos employees choose to spend the evening of November 6th together over drinks despite of the sad outcome of the day.

Tony admited in his blog that he raised a few eyebrows with his choice of sharing the news about layoffs via Twitter, but he admitted that it was very much in line with Zappo’s Twitter usage policy which encourages employees to “just be real, and use your best judgement.” He also encouraged employees to use Twitter to share the news about layoffs with their Twitter followers.

These few Twitter postings from Tony and his employees resulted in tremendous influx of positive responses from other Twitter users commenting on the situation that otherwise would have been a PR nightmare.

While Tony  is definitely a trailblazer with respect of Twitter usage, corporate America please take notice. You are looking at the future of public relations in the Web 2.0 era.


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