Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is embroiled neck-deep in possibly one of the most amusing (for us at least) PR crisis of our time. While we are pretty sure that the team is more than prepared to answer questions with regards to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, it is quite another ball game altogether to explain social media, and basically the internet, to an assembly of politicians who do not understand how it works, does not provide one enough time to answer, and also waste a good quarter of the time giving a shout-out to family and friends just to “prove” that they know social media.
We’ve been following the live hearing broadcasted on Facebook, and here are our top three takeaways from Zuckerberg:
1) Taking responsibility for the mistakes
Zuckerberg did not shy away from taking responsibility for the company’s failure in protecting consumers’ data privacy, and this was recognised and applauded by more than one congressman. In a crisis, it can be a knee-jerk reaction to take flight or shirk responsibilities. In owning up to the gaps in the social media giant's security protocols, announcing the team’s work in progress to strengthen security and informing affected account holders, Zuckerberg is taking the first step in albeit a long journey to win back users’ trust.
2) Staying cool, calm and collected
His robotic veneer may be the butt of countless jokes and memes, but we all know it’s no easy task staying composed and coherent facing hundreds of ill-informed personnel trying to take you down. With dozens of cameras broadcasting you live around the world, every misstep has immediate repercussions. Zuckerberg managed incredibly well in clarifying questions and providing answers that are clear and concise to prevent misquotes. He doesn’t shy away from admitting if he doesn’t know answers to questions and makes immediate corrections to inaccurate answers when available.
3) Respecting the time and place
Mark Zuckerberg donning a suit and tie actually made news around the world. It’s a sign of respect towards the Congress and an acknowledgment towards the gravity of the situation. Had Zuckerberg showed up in his regular t-shirt and jeans, the Congress would likely feel rather displeased and slighted. Zuckerberg respectfully addresses each person by their official title and patiently answers each question, even if it means educating the Congress on technology.
One can never overprepare in the face of a crisis, and it is clear from the folder of notes that the team had strived to cover all grounds and possible questions that may arise.
Even in good times, companies and brands should anticipate possible challenges instead of leaving it too late to react.