Most startup owners have few issues communicating with their target audience via digital platforms. When it comes to big brands and corporations, however, there are many details and nuances that must be taken into account when business leaders take to social media.
Recently, Dara Khosrowshahi, chief executive officer of ride-sharing giant Uber, shared his experiences when he decided to use his own platform as a contractor for a day. Specifically, Khosrowshahi took a day off from his corporate job to try his hand at delivering food for a few hours via Uber Eats, and then shared his adventures on Twitter.
During its decade-long existence, Uber has often utilized various rather successful public relations campaigns, and more specifically, digital public relations campaigns. In more recent times, however, the public—and especially the contractors that get work using the app—have started to see those PR efforts as a way for the company to distract people from some of its problems regarding its business model. Many contractors have criticized the company for the low wages as well as the demands of working long hours without breaks in order to earn enough money to survive. Some contractors have even resorted to sleeping in their cars in order to meet quotas and move up in the platform’s tiered system.
These reasons and more are why when Uber’s CEO started posting tweets about his positive food delivery adventures on Twitter and sharing a photo of his earnings for the day, many members of the public began criticizing him and the company itself.
The goal behind Uber’s digital PR efforts was obvious to many social media users, as they saw the CEO attempt to prove that the company’s rates and wages for contractors were perfectly fair. This has been a longstanding statement the company has been making throughout the time it's been criticized, while contractors have shown consistent proof that this isn't the case.
In this latest PR effort, many said Khosrowshahi didn't have to live on the income that he shared on Twitter, as he's the company's chief executive and used a Pro membership on the platform, allowing him to earn more. Additionally, many contractors have also complained about the unreliability of the platform’s payments, as there are certain periods when people aren't able to earn as much money, which the CEO noted himself when he was delivering food.
Although these types of digital PR efforts were quite effective just a few years ago, many employees and contractors—both in the U.S. and around the world—have been consistently criticizing them as of late. This is because although CEOs and business owners are encouraged to communicate with their target audiences via social media platforms, with these types of efforts, employees have often taken offense, and have seen the efforts as misinforming them on long-standing company issues. That’s why it’s sometimes best for CEOs to try employing other types of PR strategies instead.
Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, a leading PR firm.