Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Why Did Twitter Hire A Tech Policy Specialist As Comms Chief?

Posted by Tom Foremski - February 20, 2010



[UPDATED: with a cartoon from Guhmshoo.]

Congratulations to Sean Garrett, co-founder of 463 Communications, for his new job as VP of Corporate Communications at Twitter.

[I've known Mr Garrett for more than five years and while we haven't always seen eye-to-eye, we have always enjoyed a healthy exchange of views.]

Clearly, Twitter is a great job, and also it's a great move because Twitter offers a fantastic potential in terms of stock options that 463 Communications could never hope to match.

[One of the frustrating aspects of working in PR, people tell me, is working with startups, helping to get them publicity, helping to build their brands, and then they get sold, or they IPO, and everyone's stock options have made them rich except the PR people.]

I have no idea what Mr Garrett's reasons for joining Twitter were, but I do know that he understands traditional media, and the new media, very well indeed. He was one of the first PR bloggers, and he has an innate understanding of social media and its trends. I've always said "you have to be in it to know it" and Mr Garrett has been involved in social media for years.

What interests me about this appointment is that 463 Communications is no ordinary PR firm, it specializes in tech policy. It works with large companies that are interested in lobbying around tech issues, and they want to influence tech policy.

For example, TechNet, the industry association, is a 463 client. I recently interviewed the head of Technet Rey Ramsey. [New Head Of TechNet Looks For Common Ground - SVW]

- Why is Twitter interested in tech policy?

- Does Twitter think that it might come under some type of government regulation?

- Is there a tech policy/government aspect to Twitter that would warrant it hiring a specialist in this area?

It's not a normal appointment. After all, Mr Garrett readily admits that he is "eager to dust off my front-line media relations chops after spending most of the last nine years focused on the shadowy, back-room strategy thing."

He also points out that "via 463, I have been consulting for Twitter the last few months."

So what kind of "shadowy, back-room strategy" stuff was Mr Garrett consulting with Twitter about?

It's an interesting appointment.

- - -

BTW, here is a photo of Sean Garrett demonstrating his hands on approach to dealing with the media, or rather, dealing with me :)

Follow Sean Garrett on Twitter.

Sean Garrett's esoteric and excellent musical tastes are here.


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