Facebook PR Debacle Part II: You’re Doing It Wrong!


I recommended in my post on the 13th that those responsible for this mess be fired; if not for ethics violations, then at least for incompetence. And there are people responsible for this on the Facebook as well as the Burson-Marsteller side of this debacle.

It is quickly becoming a grand case study of “How-Not-To-Do-It.” Now Burson-Marsteller admits to removing a post critical of their behavior from their fan page. Although they immediately backtracked and promised to issue an apology to the poster, the immediate knee-jerk behavior is old-school controlling to the core.

Thanks to Wired we know that the two responsible (or at least the two that are going to take the blame) on the Burson-Marteller side are going to get off scot-free:

Instead, Mercurio and Goldman, both high-profile former journalists new to Burson, will receive additional ethics training, the company said.

Really? Journalists, high-profile at that, didn’t understand the ethics of this? Didn’t get the sleaze factor? Didn’t think about the potential blow-back?

In every company I’ve ever been in, if you don’t get the culture and ethic of the company pretty quick you get fired. The entire things feels like spin-control and a cover up for more senior decision makers to me. If it really was just these two former journalists involved, Burson could have resolved this in hours.

I don’t know these men (and possibly women) involved, and I don’t have to. It’s not about them – it’s about the possibility of salvaging a company. It was a reputation damaging action and if Burson wants to keep any shred of its reputation and dignity, it should clean house now, not next week.

At least the Brits get it:

… the former Chairman and CEO of Burson’s British business absolutely ripped apart the firm’s tactics, calling them “furtive and creepy.”

I predict a mass exodus of the best and brightest from Burson in 3, 2, …

In the mean time Facebook, as noted by Dan Lyons in Facebook Smear Blame Game,

…will do what it always does when it gets into trouble: refuse to apologize, admit no wrongdoing, stop talking and wait for the storm to blow over.

If so, that would be the first smart move they’ve made in this sorry episode.

It might be the first smart move Dan, but it won’t replace the trust they just squandered in this “sorry episode.”


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