After more than a year taking one public relations beating after another, Facebook is still standing strong as the unchallenged top dog in the social media world. But the constant negative press hasn’t been without consequences. Some are now openly calling for Facebook to shake up its leadership team, pushing out some long standing leaders and replacing some of the biggest names at the company. So far, CEO Mark Zuckerberg says no deal.
As recently as last week, Zuckerberg told the media he’ll stay on as company chairman and that his number two, Sheryl Sandberg, will stay there right along with him. “Sheryl is a really important part of this company and is leading a lot of the efforts to address a lot of the biggest issues that we have …” CNN reported Zuckerberg saying, “She’s been an important partner for me for 10 years ... I hope that we work together for decades more to come.”
Zuckerberg went on to say he has no plans to step aside any time soon. This is a strong statement defending stability and loyalty for the company, even as Facebook continues to be hounded by critics and the press.
The New York Times has repeatedly criticized the company for not being transparent about its efforts to stem allegations of “election interference” during the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. Then, there’s the more recent allegations that Facebook hired a crisis PR firm to throw mud at its competition in order to distract the media and users from the barrage of negative press pointed at Facebook. Both the company and the PR firm in question have vigorously denied any wrongdoing related to that allegation.
Still, when pushed, Zuckerberg admitted company leadership team doesn’t exactly look very much like it did at the beginning of the year, telling CNN: “If you look at the management team at the end of 2018, it's quite different from what it was at the beginning of the year … On the product and engineering side, we completely restructured things.”
In this, Zuckerberg is pointing back to a leadership change made in late spring of this year, during which several executives were removed or moved and new people were brought in to help Facebook grow new income streams. These statements, however, didn’t pass the sniff test with critics. Sure, Facebook made some changes, but it was largely based on expansion, not shifting leadership or philosophy that, many say, led to the series of PR crises in the first place.
Ronn Torossian is CEO of NY PR agency 5WPR.