Quitting social media will have 'no impact' on Wetherspoons PR, argues pub chain's comms chief

JD Wetherspoons' decision to close its social media accounts won't have any impact on PR for the pub chain, its PR man Eddie Gershon has told PRWeek - adding that he's "personally not a big fan" of Twitter.

• Eddie Gershon will be speaking at PRWeek’s PR360 conference on Friday, discussing practical ways to deal with fake news – click here to book tickets for the two-day event.

Wetherspoons announced the decision to close down its Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts for both head office and its individual pubs this morning, with the story gaining widespread publicity in the national media.

The firm said the move "follows the bad publicity surrounding social media, including the 'trolling' of MPs and others, especially those from religious or ethnic minorities". It also takes account of recent concerns regarding the misuse of personal data and the "addictive nature of social media", the company added.

Wetherspoons, which operates more than 900 pubs in the UK and Ireland, had more than 44,000 Twitter followers and more than 100,000 followers on Facebook. Its most popular posts have received more than 500,000 views.

PR measures

Asked about the impact of the social media move on the PR operation, Gershon told PRWeek: "I don’t believe it will have any impact on PR for Wetherspoon.

"If we wish to get our message over we speak direct to reporters and if they then wish to add their story to Twitter, then fine by us.

"There are obviously millions of people that love Twitter, but personally I am not a big fan and it is clear that my client feels the same way.

"Give me a 200-word story in The Sun or The Times any day over a tweet."

We will still be vocal

In a statement announcing the move, Wetherspoons chairman Tim Martin said: "We are going against conventional wisdom that these platforms are a vital component of a successful business.

"I don’t believe that closing these accounts will affect our business whatsoever, and this is the overwhelming view of our pub managers.

"It’s becoming increasingly obvious that people spend too much time on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and struggle to control the compulsion.

"We will still be as vocal as ever through our Wetherspoon News magazine, as well as keeping the press updated at all times.

"We will also be maintaining our website and the Wetherspoon app and encourage customers to get in touch with us via our website or by speaking with the manager at their local pub."

Last October, JD Wetherspoon had to deal with the fallout of a parody Twitter account for the pub chain that claimed it was boycotting the poppy appeal.

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