Adviser's tweet about widow of fallen Navy SEAL sends firm into crisis PR mode

The incident illustrates yet another example of how not to use social media

Mar 2, 2017 @ 1:22 pm

By Jeff Benjamin

+ Zoom
(Bloomberg)

The ripple effects from a single tweet Tuesday night during President Donald J. Trump's speech before Congress have turned at least one financial adviser's life upside down, while also sending an unsuspecting financial advisory firm into emergency PR-mode.

The tweet from Dan Grilo, a principal at Liberty Advisor Group in Chicago, insulted Carryn Owens, the wife of Navy SEAL William Owens who died during a military operation in Yemen on Jan. 28.

As President Trump was honoring Mr. Owens and recognizing his wife in the audience, Mr. Grilo tweeted the following: "Sorry, Owens' wife, you're not helping yourself or your husband's memory by standing there and clapping like an idiot. Trump just used you."

As will often happen in the wide-open world of social media, that 23-word tweet went viral and marked the start of a downward spiral for Mr. Grilo. It also introduced yet another example of how not to use social media.

Mr. Grilo, who could not be reached for comment for this story, is "no longer affiliated with Liberty," according to an apology statement posted on the advisory firm's website Wednesday morning.

While Mr. Grilo apparently tried to delete the tweet following the initial reaction on Twitter, the damage had already been done, as tweets piled up posting images of Mr. Grilo as well as the contact details for Liberty.

The advisory firm did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

While the advisory firm might be hunkering down until the dust settles, the initial response of posting a statement and firing the offender gets high marks from public relations veteran Jennifer Connelly, chief executive of JConnelly.

"They absolutely did the right thing by putting a stake in the ground," she said. "They chose to disassociate themselves from someone who doesn't represent their values or what they stand for. Liberty knew they could not hide from this and there were big risks on the table."

In terms of social media, the key is to have policies in place, but to also use common sense, according to Kristen Luke, co-founder and marketing consultant at Kaleido Inc.

"Unlike Facebook, where you can lock down your privacy a little bit, Twitter is so public that everybody in the universe can see what you're posting," she said. "What you post on social media represents you and your company, and people need to learn to practice restraint because once it's out there and goes viral, there's nothing you can do about it."

Mr. Grilo is likely learning that lesson the hard way. He has closed his Twitter account, @grilodan, where he identified himself as a former volunteer for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

On Mr. Grilo's LinkedIn profile, where it states he joined Liberty in August 2015, he is described as an "accomplished client engagement executive with Fortune 500 management consulting experience." The account was terminated on Wednesday.

Carolyn McClanahan, founder and director of financial planning at Life Planning Partners, is an active Twitter user who does not shy away from political debate. But, she said Mr. Grilo's comments crossed the line.

"I'm all about being authentic on Twitter, but for that comment I probably would have fired him, too; I would have even fired myself," she said. "Being mean and hateful, especially to somebody who has lost of loved one, that's a sign of bad judgment."

Regarding the temptation to vent and express personal views that might be considered controversial, Ms. Luke recommends opening a personal Twitter account that doesn't include your real name, and can't be linked to your employer.

"For anything you don't want the whole world to know is coming from you, you should probably post through an anonymous account," she said. "Or, if you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all."

0
Comments

What do you think?

View comments

Recommended for you

Sponsored financial news

Upcoming Event

Oct 17

Conference

Best Practices Workshop

For the fifth year, InvestmentNews will host the Best Practices Workshop & Awards, bringing together the industry’s top-performing and most influential firms in one room for a full-day. This exclusive workshop and awards program for the... Learn more

Featured video

Events

Pershing's Cirrotti: What's next for the fiduciary rule?

The Department of Labor's new fiduciary rule will have a lasting impact on this industry. Have we finally reached the finish line? Pershing's Rob Cirrotti explains what is to come.

Video Spotlight

Will It Last As Long As Your Clients Do?

Sponsored by Prudential

Video Spotlight

The Catalyst

Sponsored by Pershing

Latest news & opinion

Nationwide's 401(k) record-keeping fees are excessive, lawsuit claims

Plaintiffs claim practice of charging plans a percentage of assets is unreasonable.

Wealth management firms struggle with lower fees, fewer new clients

Advisers in North America earned less from clients last year and saw a decline in average fees, according to a new report by PriceMetrix.

These investors are allowed to put $500K into a Roth IRA at once

The HEART Act permits rolling all or part of life-insurance and combat-related-fatality payouts directly into the tax-free retirement plan, but few take advantage.

Labor's Alexander Acosta and SEC's Jay Clayton tell lawmakers they will work together on fiduciary rule

In separate appearances before Senate panels, the regulators stressed the cooperation that Republican legislators and opponents of the DOL fiduciary rule are demanding.

Brian Block denies cooking the books at Schorsch REIT

Former CFO claims everything he did was 'appropriate' and 'correct.'

X

Subscribe and Save 60%

Premium Access
Print + Digital

Learn more
Subscribe to Print