Twitter is mighty hip. We know this because News Ltd keeps telling us that it is a waste of time — yet can’t stop devoting column inches to its existence. We also know it’s trendy because Ashton Kutcher tweets a lot. And he’s cool. Right?

Naturally, most media companies have an interest in establishing a presence on Twitter. And so they should. Anyone seeking to establish a rapport with their audience should ensure that they are where their audience is. It’s just a shame that many of these companies have no idea how to engage on the micro-blogging platform.

Using Twitter should be a fundamental aspect of any organisation’s PR practices. Yet most approach it with a devil-may-care attitude. As is the case with women’s basketball, companies need to realise the important thing in dealing with Twitter is to get a handle on the fundamentals.

Media companies need to slow down and work out exactly what they’re doing before they start tweeting.

But what exactly do they need to keep in mind?

Brevity is not an excuse:

Twitter users have just 140 characters to present their message. Just because one needs to be brief, it doesn’t mean your message isn’t important enough to put due care into it. As a message issued from a corporate media entity, a higher standard is required than John Smith posting about his love of Jaffas. So proof read and make it sensical.

Does Fox8 have a policy of not airing shows set in the future? Baffling.

Communication is a two-way street:

Twitter ain’t an RSS feed. To increase the level of user engagement, you should actually reply to comments and statements directed at you. But don’t offer too much access. After all you need, to be a little mean to keep them keen.

Get it right the first time:

We love Shaun Micallef enough to know his name isn’t spelt Sean.

Interestingly, Channel Ten seem to have deleted this tweet after criticism via Twitter from Ch 10 on-air talent Rove McManus and Josh Thomas. Even more interesting is that both Rove and Thomas have subsequently deleted their tweets also. A funny thing about the internet is that once something is published, you can never be entirely sure something remains deleted. A gaffe like this is perfect fodder for bloggers, so get the message correct the first time.

Be true to your school:

Who is the intended audience? Engage them about subjects they may actually care about or why bother?

Australia doesn’t get HBO, nor is Hung broadcast or available within Australia. Where’s the relevancy? Is just trying to encourage piracy?

Twitter is an awesome tool for spreading a message quickly at a practically non-existent cost. It’s trendy as all heck to embrace this online space and it’s easy to see why media companies are keen to adapt. But for heaven’s sake, they need to slow down and evaluate exactly what a Twitter feed can do for their organisation and resource it adequately.