Kirby Delauter – Don’t Use My Name


One of numerous memes ridiculing Kirby DelauterIn our continuing discussion about improving email and other digital communications, we had to share how one locally elected official’s Facebook rant made him a top-trending topic and punching bag on Twitter; a source of numerous memes, like the one here, and the subject of unflattering coverage in media around the country.

Kirby Delauter, a Frederick County, MD councilman, told  Frederick News-Post reporter Bethany Rodgers, in a Facebook exchange, that she was not authorized to even use his name in her news accounts. If she continued to do so, he threatened to sue her.

Obviously, an elected official cannot sue over the use of his name, nor does any reporter need authorization to use the official’s name in a story. So now, Delauter is trying to recover with an apology that his threat was “wrong and inappropriate.” .

Noteworthy in his apology is his admission that he has “fired off my share of angry emails, which in hindsight I wished I hadn’t. I can’t think of one that had a positive effect.” He did even worse than that in this case. He posted his message on Facebook where it could be widely seen. An email, at least, couldn’t be re-posted — unless the reporter had chosen to share it.

Delauter also said he thought he had “long ago learned the lesson of waiting 24 hours” before hitting the send key but “apparently I didn’t learn that lesson as well as I should have.”

What he has learned is that he can’t stop a reporter from using his name. And we hope he has learned that he can avoid further damage to his reputation by using a “cooling off” period and following some of the other steps we’ve recommended in previous posts on email etiquette.

As a footnote, please see the Frederick News-Post editorial on the councilman’s original comments. It’s one of the best we’ve seen.

A Beluga Whale of a Mistake



Broadcasting digitally is fraught with the potential for mistakes, and one organization,, recently made a “beluga whale of a mistake,” as it said. The organization, which works with young people on social campaigns, accidentally sent a text message to 2.1 million of its members that said:

Hey Can-tributer! Together you donated 510,543 items! Wow! Want to meet Jewish teens who make a difference like u? You can w/ BBYO! Visit…

The text was supposed to only go to about 4,000 Jewish members. Nearly 12,000 people responded. Most were confused. Some were offended, and some sent racist comments.

The organization turned its beluga whale of a mistake into a positive and engaging experience with this reply from one of its staff members:

Alysha here. Proof I’m human: I messed up & sent u a text about being Jewish. To say sorry, I made you an “I F’d Up” playlist. Listen here:

The playlist included songs, like “Apologize” and Cher’s “If I Could Turn Back Time.” One in three of the people who received it, clicked through to listen. As the organization noted in its blog post, it wanted to give something of value — at least entertainment value — to the people it may have offended. Given that its audience is people 25 and younger, a playlist was perfectly attuned to the very audience it needed to reach. quickly and effectively devised a simple and elegant solution to this mistake that could overcome the anger  triggered by its original text and leave recipients with a smile on their faces and a song in their hearts.