|January 16, 2008|
|Facebook's Boy CEO Has a Better Sunday than Tony Romo|
|By Greg Hazley|
|I don’t envy the PR team at Facebook. I feel for the communications staff at any company that has a 23-year-old CEO (who could physically pass for 17) calling the shots. |
Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg rocketed to fame last year after a slow and steady (we’re talking Internet time here) climb out of the public view and into the masses. While a good chunk of the country was watching the Giants upset Dallas on Sunday, Zuckerberg was perched on the “60 Minutes” hot seat under fire from Leslie Stahl. That’s a tough spot for the most seasoned chief, so I would hope the decision to put Mark in that spot was thoroughly thought through. In the end, it paid off.
The result was an interview that had some stumbles, but did much more benefit than harm to Zuckerberg and Facebook, which has stumbled on the PR front since Microsoft vaulted the company to become the hottest thing in tech.
Terrence Russell at Wired called the sit-down a “gem” while pointing out there was little new for Facebook junkies (not making news can be considered a success when “60 Minutes” comes knocking) but that Zuckerberg did answer some tough questions – will the be an IPO in 2008 (highly unlikely), why are you being sued (not worried).
Zuckerberg’s interview, while certainly not groundbreaking, was impressive because of his inexperience and previous lack of PR savvy. He was conversational, if curt, with Stahl, even talking with her as if they were in a coffeehouse at points:
Stahl: It’s a huge company…
Zuckerberg: It’s not that big.
Stahl: You seem to be replacing Larry [Page] and Segey [Brin of Google] as the people out here who everyone’s talking about.
Zuckerberg: [blank stare] Is that a question?
Helping Stahl set up her own Facebook page was PR magic. (Blocking Les Moonves from your page was a nice touch, Leslie.) Zuckerberg's hooded brown sweatshirt and no socks wasn’t the typical “60 Minutes” wardrobe, either.
But others didn’t see the interview as the boost I thought it was.
Silicon Alley Insider called it a “squirming performance” and noted it drew a season-low viewership for the top 10 newsmagazine’s ratings, although the great football game probably hurt the audience numbers more than Zuckerberg’s geek-to-riches story.
Kari Hanson, who blogs at First Person PR, thinks Zuckerberg is in “desperate need of some media training.”
As I write this, I wonder how involved Facebook’s PR team was with this opportunity. From my vantage point, either Facebook doesn’t view PR as a strategic component to the company’s success, or Zuckerberg is a classic example of a CEO who thinks he knows PR and won’t take guidance. Or, he needs a new PR team.
The timing was good for the company and the young CEO, and Stahl did a nice piece answering the question, “What is Facebook?” More outreach from the company is clearly needed, especially regarding its
controversial (and botched) Beacon ad platform, but Sunday was a step in the right PR direction.
Zuckerberg certainly performed better under pressure on Sunday than Tony Romo.
Zuckerberg on ’60 Minutes’: LINK
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