Using Public Relations to Rebrand a Business — Now Facebook has been Misunderstood

The positive or negative impact of a marketing communications (MARCOM) campaign is often not considered by early stage ISVs. For very early stage tech businesses, MARCOM is either an after thought, or entirely non existent. This oversight is a big mistake. After all, as we were once counseled, “no message is a message”. Entrepreneurs do well to factor in a brand, even where they’ve made no effort to build one. The marketplace will build one, anyways.

But what’s even worse, in our estimation, than no brand, is an ineptly managed one. We think a prominent tech business, Facebook, is an example of a business mismanaging its brand, at least since its IPO.

So how dangerous are MARCOM mistakes? To use Facebook as an example — very dangerous. Simply consider the poor performance of the company’s stock, post IPO. We don’t think the appearance of the CEO, the treatment of Wall Street Analysts, and the general public impression of the business do much of anything, if at all, to correct these mistakes.

But it looks as if the public relations (PR) team at Facebook thinks they can solve the brand problem. We aren’t sure. In an article published in the April edition of Vanity Fair, Kurt Eichenwald spends a lot of words transmitting a picture of Facebook, and Mark Zuckerberg in particular, as just “misunderstood”. The article is titled Facebook Leans In. If Mr. Eichenwald is correct, then the MARCOM team at Facebook has certainly failed their mission, at least at the level of subliminal message for the marketplace. It’s s MARCOM job to make sure the public gets absolutely the right message about a business. If the CEO is misunderstood, the big problem should be laid on the doorstep of MARCOM.

We don’t think PR works well where the campaign theme must point a critical finger over at MARCOM. But perhaps we’re missing something. Perhaps the implications of the “misunderstood” theme simply escaped the PR folks at Facebook. We fear something else is at work here. The object of the “misunderstood” theme is to rally the public around the CEO and the company at the expense of the Wall Street Analysts who just don’t get it. After all, the public could care less about what “misunderstood” implies, right?

More on this real life example of MARCOM and PR at work in the next post to this blog.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved

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