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How Facebook’s Response Ignited the Cambridge Analytica Scandal

From our good friend and colleague, James Haggerty:

In a crisis, it’s not the event itself that counts. It’s the response.

Unfortunately for Facebook’s shareholders, it appears Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, and the company’s other leaders did not understand this basic rule of crisis management when handling the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

For my 2017 book, Chief Crisis Officer: Structure and Leadership for Effective Communications Response, we looked at more than 12,000 statements of companies in crisis. Here’s what we found: In every single crisis that made front page news, there were certain common elements. The most noticeable? In each and every case, the company in question screwed up the initial response—and that, rather than the severity of the event itself, was what made the event a crisis.

From United Airlines to Equifax to Target to Sony, even going back to the BP oil spill, in each case, the first days or weeks of the crisis were characterized by fumbled responses, statements that corrected prior statements, and falling back on legalisms and obfuscation. Then the company found religion, got its act together, and started repairing the considerable damage that had been done.

But often for the organization, it was too little, too late.

For the rest, click here.

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