Why Facebook's PR Fiasco with Google Again Shows CEO Zuckerberg's Lack of Management Skill
Is it a surprise to anyone that Facebook tripped over its own arrogance?
Facebook admitted Thursday to hiring a public relations firm to make light of rival Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) consumer privacy policies. The firm, Burson-Marstellar, subtly contacted journalists and privacy experts, refusing to reveal the identity of its client.
Facebook said, in retrospect, it should have presented the issues in a more "serious and transparent" manner.
"We wanted third parties to verify that people did not approve of the collection and use of information from their accounts on Facebook and other services for inclusion in Google Social Circles," the company said in a statement, referring to one of Google's social networking features.
"Facebook did not approve of use or collection for this purpose."
The move is clearly amateur hour. Many corporations utilize public relations firms with unknown efficiency and creativity - on a daily basis. There is a reason top-notch PR firms sometimes charge exorbitant fees - they are professionals with talents and skill sets unavailable elsewhere.
Somehow, Facebook hired - and approved of - Burson-Marstellar performing a campaign that carried the equivalent tactical skills of an internet bully.
It's both humorous and disheartening that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is spending the gobs of cash he's sitting on to incoherently discredit one of the biggest corporations in the world. While Google is by no means innocent of handling privacy issues with universal satisfaction, you can believe that it would approach an attack on a rival with more panache!
Perhaps most disturbing to those with a memory of the tech bubble burst, Facebook seems more focused on highlighting another company's shortcomings instead of improving on its own. Shouldn't corporate funds be focused on improving user satisfaction, investing in the company's future growth and maximizing the value of its shareholder's holdings?
Zuckerberg seems to believe that his ongoing gaffes won't affect the company. But one only needs to look at Netscape, Napster and Myspace to understand that management can drive promising ideas into the technological graveyard.
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