Just over a year ago, Miley Cyrus gave me her cell phone number. Well actually, she didn’t know she was giving it to me, but I received it nonetheless. This is how it happened…
Note: For the sake of anonymity, I have changed names of all individuals involved.
I met Nathan at a networking event. Not the typical show up, trade as many business cards as you can, and never followup again networking event. It was hosted by a notable entrepreneur who made it crystal clear that the purpose was to form real relationships. Even if that meant you only left with a single contact.
My contact was Nathan, who was starting an NPO that piqued my interest. He had relationships with major brands including Twitter, Yahoo, and Pepsi; each of which had committed to involvement in some capacity.
I told Nathan that I had recently moved to Santa Monica with the goal of building my social media client list. I had seen tremendous success marketing e-commerce and tech companies, and was hoping to add philanthropic brands to my rapidly growing portfolio. I offered to donate my time to manage social media channels for his charity.
Two weeks prior, I had published Twitter for Actors (my first book). I’m not certain when I mentioned that to Nathan, but I slipped it into one of our conversations. This turned out to be a good move.
Nathan began reaching out to celebrities for charity endorsements. He called to tell me some good news:
We’ve got [A-list celebrity] on board! But she’s not on Twitter yet, so I think you should help her set it up.
I agreed. No questions asked.
I began designing custom background and header images. Nathan called his friends at Twitter and shared the great news. The @username was currently being squatted, so Twitter transferred it to a new account.
I was given account credentials so I could implement my design work.
This should have been a big red flag to me. No A-list celebrity is going to give a complete stranger access to their Twitter account. And if a celebrity was that foolish, their manager or publicist would know better. But whatever. At the time, I was blinded by what I thought was an amazing opportunity.
The account was verified within 24 hours.
The followers started pouring in. Every time I refreshed the page, she had another 100 followers. Within a few hours the account was up to 30K.
I felt lucky. I’d landed in the right place at the right time. This was my big break!
Until it all came crashing down…
The following day, a notable pop-culture blogger expressed concern about the celebrity account. He claimed to have checked with the talent agency, who said the Twitter account was not legitimate.
At first, I brushed it off. I assumed he was just trying to add kindling to the publicity fire. I was wrong. Credible media outlets covered the scandal. Discrediting the account despite it’s “Verified” stamp on Twitter.
The masses followed suit. @mentions on Twitter poured in faster than the first onslaught of followers. Most of which were disappointed and/or angry. Rightfully so. Everyone had been tricked, including myself.
I recounted the events of the previous 48 hours.
This time around, the red flags were easy to spot.
How could I have been so naive?
I wanted to figure out what the hell was going on. How someone could pull off a stunt like this, tricking everyone (at least temporarily)?
I logged into the Twitter account in search of clues. Anything that might indicate who was behind the grand caper.
No clues. But a Direct Message caught my eye.
Miley Cyrus has seen her share of publicity crossfire. I’m not sure if the intent of the message was ‘a shoulder to lean on’ because of the media criticism.
In any case, Miley sent her phone number. I stared at it for a while, wondering if I should save it.
I saved it.
I knew I would never use it, but thought it would make one hell of a story someday. I guess you can be the judge of that.
I feel terrible for all the people who were fooled by this elaborate hoax. To this day, nobody knows who was the mastermind behind the curtain. I just got yanked on stage and played my part based on the script I was handed.
When I realized it was not, in fact, my big break…I was bummed. But now I laugh at it. Life is always an adventure. Plus, I ended up with 10 digits that very few people can say the’ve gotten.