Reputation Damage Control

September 24, 2010

Reputation Damage Control

  In an interesting take on reputation damage control regarding the new movie (The Social Network) about Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg in the Wall Street Journal today, I came across the following quote by the producer Scott Rudin about Facebook’s involvement.
 “They were trying to figure out a way not to tie Mark’s personal identity to the identity of the company. Because they were and are talking about an inevitable IPO and clearly want the company to be bigger than Mark Zuckerberg.”

There is no way that Zuckerberg’s personality is not tied to the company. When it comes to founding CEOs and when it comes to companies in the technology industry, the link is inextricable and unbreakable. It is a double whammy when the product, in this case Facebook, is so stupendously successful. It would be nice if this were not the case but there is no arguing about this. Think about Steve Jobs and Apple, Bill Gates and Microsoft, Larry Ellison and Oracle and Scott McNealy and Sun Microsystems, to name a few.  That’s the way it is. Each of these is endlessly interesting in how these young men started these colossally large firms and changed the industry forever.

Yes, the company is bigger than Zuckerberg, technically-speaking. But as I have said so many times before, the CEO or founder is the public face of the company and no more than it is in this new and exciting social media age. It has a storyline with grand proportions which is why a book has been written and a movie made.

I thought that the New Yorker interview with Zuckerberg added further dimension to the founder’s personality and probably counterbalanced some of the negativity that is in the newly released movie.

Go with the flow.

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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross

As Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist, I focus on the ever changing world of reputation. For the past 25 years, I have relentlessly observed, researched and commented on the rise and fall of corporate and CEO reputations.

  • paul seaman
    Posted at 20:07h, 24 September Reply

    Good post. These heroes of change and entrepreneurship remind me that sustainability has severe limitations. None of them could have achieved anything much if what went before was sustainable. We remain caught in a contradiction in PR when everything has to be presented as being sustainable and yet at the same time we want to be champions of change. I think, also, you are on to something about the personal nature and branding of many of society’s change agents. The funny thing is, in my view, that even newly-arrived Zuckerberg is already vulnerable to the next big thing. And Bill Gates might have been yesterday’s IT leader and still the richest man on earth but he’s now considered old money; not new. It is as if all change and our perception of it is accelerating.

    • Dr. Leslie Gaines-Ross
      Posted at 16:08h, 26 September Reply

      I could not agree more and appreciate your comment. I think that Bill Gates did a wonderful thing for new and old money by setting an example of changing the world and recognizing that everyone’s lives are equal in their worth. Years before, CEOs rode off into the sunset to play golf. As far as perception accelerating, I would add that perception is now reality and even that is more vulnerable than ever. My perception gets battered every day with news, hearsay, commentary and chatter. Nothing stays the same over 24 hours except the most fundamental.