5 Crisis Management Tips We Can Learn from Zuckerberg | eNews from OWC

There’s no question that over the last decade Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has grown from a flip-flop wearing startup bro into a full-blown tech tycoon and astute businessman to be reckoned with. There is, however, a debate on how well he’s handled the recent Facebook-Cambridge Analytica debacle. While Zuckerberg’s initial absence and radio-silence approach is ill-advised during a crisis, it’s clear he spent his time out of the spotlight when the fiasco first broke getting some much-needed media training. There were several ways he handled the congressional hearing surprisingly well, and a few where he faltered. Here’s what we can learn from the latest PR disaster taking the world by storm:

Be transparent … quickly and of your own volition.
Before attending the congressional hearing, Zuckerberg was relatively absent from the conversation, allowing a news vacuum to open and anyone with a theory to fill the void. Don’t let others create fake news to explain your story. Get in front of controversy by being as transparent as possible, disclosing all the facts as quickly as possible and making yourself available for questions from the media. Answering “no comment” is an unacceptable response. Get the facts out and get them out fast.

Control the narrative, not the reporters.
Don’t threaten to sue The New York Times and the Guardian for publishing the facts. This is a sure-fire way to turn your most important potential allies against you. Covering the news is a reporter’s job, but the way they frame a story is a choice – and your interactions with them influence that choice. Are you making their job easier or more difficult? Are you dodging their questions or creating an open line of communication?

Guide the interview and stick to your messages.
One thing Zuckerberg did particularly well during the hearing was control the interview. He stuck to his talking points and stayed on message employing a few strategic tactics, like:

  • Building a bridge. If a reporter starts to wander into areas you don’t want to talk about, answer the reporter’s inquiry briefly, then build a bridge back to your key points. When Zuckerberg was pushed on certain sensitive topics, such as defining what Facebook is, he took control of the conversation by bridging to a topic he felt was relevant and supported his messaging.
  • Rephrasing tricky questions. It’s important not to let anyone put words in your mouth, but don’t argue. To avoid getting stuck in a semantics war, restructure loaded questions to guide back to your talking points and where you feel comfortable with phrases like “I think what you’re asking is …” A great example of this is when Zuckerberg addressed regulation questions with a question of his own: “I think the real question, as the internet becomes more important in people’s lives, is what is the right regulation? Not whether there should be or not.”
  • Flagging key points. Emphasize that the statement you are about to make is one the reporter should remember. Zuckerberg did a great job of illustrating this tactic when responding to Sen. Leahy’s question on Facebook’s role in violence in Myanmar saying “Yes, we’re working on this and there are three specific things we are doing…” He then proceeded to list the three actionable tactics, along with the reasons behind them, succinctly in only 36 seconds.

Be prepared.
This is another area where Zuckerberg shined. He arrived calm and collected with soundbite messages prepared and his key objectives defined. He even brought a now-notorious binder of notes to help him answer tough questions about hot-button issues should he get stuck. Preparation goes a long way to helping you feel more in control and at ease.

Say ‘sorry.’
It’s important to humanize your brand by being sincere and apologetic. Apologizing doesn’t have to be synonymous with admitting fault; it’s about expressing concern that the crisis occurred. Express concern for any victims and their families. If a mistake was made, apologize. There’s a common saying: “People buy people, not products.” It means that people choose to do business with people they feel connected to, like and, above all, trust. Zuckerberg has spent 14 years as the face of Facebook, yet when the news broke, he was missing from the conversation and so was his public apology.

While crises are inevitable, we can choose how we respond when they do happen. Let Zuckerberg’s reaction to the recent troubles Facebook is facing be a lesson to you. Remember: don’t delay, apologize, be transparent and be accountable.

April 20th, 2018|Categories: eNewsletter|Tags: , , , , , , |

Embrace good enough: A response to Sandberg by Elsa Walsh

Elsa WalshSheryl Sandberg, COO at Facebook, has ignited the world with her comments for women to “Lean In” to their work. It’s caused many women to question and engage in a dialogue that explores the complicated balance between work life and family – and how to choose a priority. So, should women really be on their blackberries 24/7, sending work emails, tweets and participating in other social media applications to get ahead – or seek a more balanced life?

In an article published in The Washington Post on Sunday, Elsa Walsh, a former Post reporter, author of “Divided Lives: The Public and Private Struggles of Three American Women,” and a current New Yorker staff writer, suggests we consider a “good enough” life. She takes a “longer view of a woman’s life” and frames the perspective with a question for Sandberg: Does she ever consider the fact that she will die someday?

April 23rd, 2013|Categories: Commentary|Tags: , , , , |

The Different uses of social media: What is best for you?

The other day, I had a chat with Joseph, our social media strategist, about the different uses of social media. The conversation started with how differently we viewed Facebook. Joseph uses Facebook to connect with more and more people, to engage with them, share opinions and articles, etc. – the more, the merrier — in order to start conversations and share content.


Marie Ebenezer has been interning at OWC, writing about social media and cultural differences.

I, on the other hand, only use Facebook for private purposes. I have about 150 Facebook friends, and these are the people I actually see or communicate with on a regular basis. Seeing private photos of someone I barely know, for instance, seems odd to me. I guess keeping my Facebook profile quite private is just a personal preference, and I might be an exception. I would feel violated if someone, who I don’t really know, looked at my private pictures and knew where I was spending my holidays, and I, therefore, do not want to have as many Facebook friends as possible. This does not mean that I’m unfriendly or reluctant to make new acquaintances — I am actually very opened and extroverted.

This conversation I had with Joseph is just part of a much larger trend I have noticed while working in public relations. I have talked about Facebook with a lot of different people, and I have found that almost everybody uses it differently: some wish to have thousands of friends and interact with new people constantly, whereas others use it very passively, just to stay in the loop (e.g. know about upcoming events). Facebook alone has many different uses, and I started wondering what people used all the other social networks for. Do each of them have a specific purpose? Well, here are my thoughts on this as a meme.

People use Facebook in many different ways.

My approach to Facebook is just one of many ways to use it.

Facebook is the largest social-media platform, and it is the one I use most…by far. I use Facebook to write messages, to chat, to share photos, videos and articles and to stay connected with my friends. I also have a LinkedIn profile, which I created for professional purposes. It is useful for networking, even though I still have two years of university ahead of me before I can start looking for a job.

I do not have my own Twitter account or blog, but I have tweeted and blogged for OWC lately – and really started to like it! Twitter is great for getting your thoughts out there quickly and having them seen by a large audience. If you tweet well, your number of followers increase, and Twitter becomes very effective. Blogs are a good tool for creating a voice and elaborating interesting topics. Another emerging platform is Pinterest, an online pin board where you can collect and share items such as recipes, ideas and designs. Pinterest has a predominantly female demographic (80%), and it is expected to gain more and more influence on the social media market.

And then there is Google+. Did you know that Google+ is the second largest social network? I was surprised when I read this statistic, but as I looked more closely at this site, I became more and more convinced that Google+ has some very successful years to come. I have only ever used Google+ for hangouts, and in my opinion this tool was cleverly marketed.  It’s definitely the most prominent feature, and not only can you hang out in private (like you would on a Skype video call); but you can also join public hangouts, which are being held quite frequently. Barack Obama, for instance, has used this feature just last week for connecting with the public. (The hangout was entitled “Barack Obama answers your questions,” and it was publicized on the Google homepage).

The advantages of Google+ are not restricted to hangouts though. Another great trait is that you can use this network like Twitter by writing short posts with a hash tag (“Google+ trends”). You also have the option of chatting with your connections like you would on Facebook chat, for instance. Connections on Google+ are divided into different “circles.” These are great, because you can choose which items you share will be visible for which circles (friends, family, colleagues, etc.). You can also join a Google+ community (e.g. “Breaking Bad”, “NFL” or “Baking”) , which is similar to liking a public page on Facebook. Finally, you can create or join a Google+ event, where all the invitees can contribute to a shared photo collection and where you can share photos instantly with the so-called Party Mode.

Google+ 2

Google+ trends, hangouts, events and chat are just a few of its great features.

These are just a few of the features I discovered on Google+, and I’m sure Google is working on elaborating this network even further. If you are looking to have your presence known on the web, then this social media site is great, because your profile will show up on Google searches and lead people directly to you. Google+ borrowed some great aspects from existing sites and services (Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Instagram) and made them work together. This social media site looks quite promising to me, and I’m curious to see how it will evolve and how big of an influence it will garner. And let’s not forget Pinterest, which is also on the rise – some very exciting social media trends ahead!

February 21st, 2013|Categories: Client News|Tags: , , , , , , , |