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Will @Aplusk Be the Same Without Ashton Kutcher?

As we mentioned in this morning’s Ticker, Ashton Kutcher has turned his Twitter account, and its more than eight million followers, over to Katalyst, the firm he co-founded with Jason Goldberg and Anthony Platt.

After getting blowback following a tweet in defense of former Penn State coach Joe Paterno, Kutcher said on his blog that he’s going to hand “the management of the feed” over to the Katalyst team. According to Kutcher, he tried deleting the tweets after he learned about the school’s child abuse scandal, but it was too late. Tweeters had already launched their attack, as they are wont to do.

It’s interesting that Kutcher should fall victim to a Twitter catastrophe since he himself has used the social media platform to launch an assault against another party.

This summer, you’ll recall, Kutcher lost it all over his Twitter feed after the Village Voice ran a story questioning his campaign against child prostitution here in the U.S.  So he’s no stranger to the power of Twitter. In his blog post, he also says, “It seems that today that twitter has grown into a mass publishing platform, where ones tweets quickly become news that is broadcasted around the world and misinformation becomes volatile fodder for critics.” Indeed. We thought you knew that prior to yesterday.

So this incident shows that even someone with a good deal of digital savvy can have a Twitter mishap, something publicists should keep in mind. Interestingly Kutcher seems surprised that even after he deleted the tweets, tweeters continued their assault. The other lesson, often taught, is to have a good crisis response plan in place.

Kutcher says he had written nearly all of the previous tweets himself. That voice and the public’s desire for authenticity could now be missing from the feed if others are doing the talking. Wired also questions this.

“The move goes against the very nature of what makes Twitter so powerful, stripping away the urgency of the messages and probably neutering them in the process,” a story reads, acknowledging that other celebs have also turned their Twitter feeds over to others.

Being out there, communicating directly with people means that you’ll occasionally stick your foot in your mouth. It a little crazy that Kutcher would be so thin-skinned or nervous about it now. We believe it was an honest oversight. You apologize, cop to being a bonehead, and keep apologizing until people know you’re sincere about it.

As an aside, Ad Age hopes publicists don’t use this as a way to declare some sort of victory for the industry. Publicists we speak with are all super confident that they’re the folks best suited to handle social media, but this doesn’t really seem to have anything to do with PR winning points in any way. So we wouldn’t think (or perhaps we hope also) that that wouldn’t come up.

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