By Dan Brennan
The nature of crisis communications can feel a little cyclical — especially in the technology sector. There are certain situations we have come to expect year after year: a massive data breach, a significant privacy violation, an executive resignation due to allegations of illegal activity or inappropriate behavior.
To an extent, these headlines no longer jump out; the market has become a little callous to these situations. But this year was a little different. In 2022, we saw some unique crisis communications situations, reputation management scenarios, and response strategies in the tech sector that merit a closer look.
The acquisition debacle wasn’t the only crisis this social media giant had to tackle in 2022. In particular, the company contended with a whistleblower situation involving former security chief Peiter Zatko, which notably occurred at the fulcrum of Elon Musk’s attempt to back out of the deal to acquire Twitter.
Twitter’s response to the crisis was brief and narrow, attacking the integrity of the source. It was also reported that Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal addressed the allegations during an internal all-hands meeting.
A few key takeaways from this crisis and Twitter’s response:
Since the SolarWinds breach, it seems like we’ve seen more examples of security companies getting hacked — which feels like an oxymoron. Late this past summer, LastPass disclosed that an attacker gained unauthorized access to its systems. The media sounded the alarm that a cyber thief may have stolen the proverbial keys to the kingdom for LastPass users — which wasn’t true based on what the company disclosed. LastPass managed the media feeding frenzy by publishing a blog post that they consistently updated with new information as it emerged.
There are two interesting takeaways from the outcome of this crisis from a communications standpoint:
Many CEOs strive to become influencers — larger-than-life thought leaders that shatter the status quo when it comes to any negative perception of the modern-day business leader. That was Dan Price. The social media influencer/CEO who gained internet fame by mandating a minimum salary of $70,000 per year for employees at his company, Gravity Payments.
In August of this year, the New York Times broke a story reporting allegations of physical and emotional abuse by Price. Shortly after, Price resigned from his position as CEO of Gravity Payments via a social media post, stating that his presence was a distraction to the company and that he would spend his time fighting the allegations.
There are some interesting aspects of how Gravity Payments handled (and continues to handle) this situation:
It’s impossible to guess what 2023 will have in store when it comes to crisis communications case studies and challenges. 2022 was filled with lessons learned and unique situations that made us think differently about how, where, and when we communicate during tough times. And we’re certain 2023 will bring its own array of tech sector curveballs and unforeseen challenges that will test us as communications professionals.
To get ahead of the curve, it’s essential to have a crisis communications plan in place well ahead of an emergency scenario. While all of these scenarios are different, the right strategy will provide a communications framework that you can apply in nearly any situation. Download our eBook, “The Best Defense Is Preparation: A Guide to Crisis Communications Planning,” for a step-by-step guide to creating your strategy.