The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: A Look at Tech Crisis Communications in 2022

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:

  • Be accurate, consistent, and concise: If your company decides to issue a statement or respond to allegations, it’s critical that the information you share is factually accurate. You likely won’t get a second chance to correct a mistake down the road, but even if you do, correcting that mistake will call into question the company’s integrity and invite more questions that you don’t want to answer. Keep to the facts and don’t stray from the narrative.
  • Assume everything shared internally will become public: Everything written or spoken in a company-wide forum or channel needs to be treated delicately. Operate with the expectation that any and all information shared will get leaked to the media.


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:

  • Maintain one source of truth: This kind of data breach story spreads like wildfire, particularly when it’s a cybersecurity company that’s been hacked. The potential for speculation is rampant, and maintaining a single source of truth is critical to managing the flow and direction of information. It’s important that the media sees the brand as the constant in the equation for all info regarding the breach.
  • Balance the need for transparency with the risk of restarting the news cycle: Increasingly, brands are building their reputation through transparency. During the breach situation, LastPass made it clear that the company values transparency when communicating with its community, based on the fact that the company continued to update its statement with new, pertinent information in the weeks and months following the initial disclosure. However, while it’s essential for a brand to hold true to its identity, it’s also important to remember that new information restarts the news cycle all over again.

Gravity Payments

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:

  • Pump the brakes on external communications: Following a significant controversy, it’s smart for the business to press pause on outbound awareness activity to avoid restarting the news cycle on the original controversy. And it appears that’s a part of Gravity Payments’ crisis management strategy. Blog, social and media activity from Gravity Payments has slowed significantly since the news broke.
  • Once again, being concise is critical: The only statement from the company regarding the allegations came from its new CEO, Tammi Kroll, saying that the company supports Price’s decision to step aside. Everything else about the company and its external facing properties seems to have stayed exactly the same.

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.