Good Guys Don’t Always Look the Part — Concluding Our Review of ‘Facebook Leans In’ by Kurt Eichenwald

This is our final post on Kurt Eichenwald’s article on Facebook, Facebook Leans In.

But what’s potentially more damaging to Facebook about Mr. Eichenwald’s article is the very digital nature of the editorial content, which amounts to a set of ones and zeros. Facebook is all good. Mark Zuckerberg is the most polite guy, etc. The analysts just don’t get it, etc.

Neither the subject of the article, nor publisher benefits from this type of one-sided prose. If the PR team at Facebook had an opportunity to review the draft of the article prior to publishing, they should have asked for a more critical view, if for nothing else, then to ensure the prose would depict a credible business.

Certainly PR campaigns benefit, to some meaningful extent, when independent authors (Mr. Eichenwald) decide to write about them, and a prominent publication (Vanity Fair) decides to publish this type of article. But the fine line, especially for larger businesses (Facebook is now, comparatively, a very large business), must be used to demarcate “helpful” from “damaging”. This “line” has a lot to do with the plausibility of the content. Facebook would have benefited more from a balanced treatment of the gap between wall street analysis and management’s objectives, with some meaningful description of the mistakes the company has made, not only in its message, but how it’s opted to deliver the message to the market.

But, in our opinion, this type of hyperbole is typical of other articles on technology topics we’ve read by Mr. Eichenwald as published in Vanity Fair. In August, 2012 he wrote another lopsided piece, this time highly critical of Microsoft®: Microsoft’s Lost Decade. As we now enter the ninth month since this article was published, the resurgence in Microsoft’s share price is comforting to us and indicative of how the marketplace appears to have shrugged off Mr. Eichenwald’s unbalanced view of the business.

Bottom line: early stage ISVs will do well to pick their PR opportunities carefully, ever attentive to their brand and marketing communications objectives.

Ira Michael Blonder

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

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