PR lessons from facebook

Facebook needs no introduction; the social media giant founded by Mark Zuckerberg is here to stay. With millions of users globally, it has been one of the most popular ways for brands to reach audiences and has been used very effectively by PR agencies. The irony is that Facebook has been finding itself in some very sticky spots in recent days, here’s how they were handled.

The Cambridge Analytica leak

Facebook had ended up with plenty of bad press after the Cambridge Analytica leak. The Observer reported that the personal data of about 50 million Americans had been leaked to a political consultancy. When the scandal broke out, Facebook was slow to respond. Mark Zuckerberg took five full days to comment on the situation and by this time the damage was done. This earned them quite a lot of flak.

Recent data breach

Facebook is a quick learner though, post the Cambridge Analytica episode, it not only pulled up its socks but also rethought its crisis communication strategy. Recently, Facebook faced a major data breach where the security of over 50 million accounts was compromised in an attack. CNN provided details on this and revealed that the attackers had used a feature called “View as”. This allows Facebook users see their Facebook page exactly how anyone else would. This was utilised to capture accounts and use them exactly like the account holders.
Once the breach came to the knowledge of Facebook, it acted swiftly both in terms of quickly remedying the breach as well as reaching out and explaining what exactly had happened.
Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive took a conference call with reporters. “I’m glad we found this, but it definitely is an issue that this happened in the first place.”
Meanwhile, a press release was sent out where Guy Rosen, Facebook’s Vice President of Product Management revealed the action taken, “First, we’ve fixed the vulnerability and informed law enforcement.
“Second, we have reset the access tokens of the almost 50 million accounts we know were affected to protect their security. We’re also taking the precautionary step of resetting access tokens for another 40 million accounts that have been subject to a “View As” look-up in the last year. As a result, around 90 million people will now have to log back in to Facebook, or any of their apps that use Facebook Login. After they have logged back in, people will get a notification at the top of their News Feed explaining what happened. Third, we’re temporarily turning off the “View As” feature while we conduct a thorough security review.”
Their quick and transparent response has endeared them to Facebook users. It has also restored confidence in Facebook, though it will still take time for the full impact to ease. Whenever crisis strikes any brand, it’s important to take a leaf out of Facebook’s PR and respond quickly and maintain a clear and transparent line of communication. This will go a long way in restoring customer confidence and loyalty.

Learnings

· Respond quickly and be transparent
· Send out a press release immediately when a crisis breaks out
· Have a contingency process in place so that you know how to handle it
· Keep the communication flowing steadily
· Make sure that you have one spokesperson only

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s