SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook’s PR team got help from an unlikely ally after being thrown under the bus by its own executives last week.
Current and former Twitter PR executives have defended their social media counterparts from what they see as scapegoating after CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg blamed Facebook’s comms team for hiring Definers Public Affairs. The agency's opposition research work was revealed by The New York Times this month. The comments by Sandberg, who has been closely involved with media strategy, incensed the communications team, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Twitter comms executives denouncing comments from Sandberg and Zuckerberg include Brandon Borrman, VP of global communications; Lara Cohen, global partnership solutions lead; and Nick Pacilio, comms manager of global government and news.
I'm sorry, but I've had the privilege of working with a lot of FB's comms team over the years. They're among the best in the business and don't deserve to be scapegoated like this. Lead from the top. https://t.co/OP1qWeniwM— Brandon Borrman (@bborrman) November 15, 2018
sorry, but blaming your comms team in times of crisis is a garbage move. https://t.co/74nUXR6Cd0— Lara Cohen ???? (@Larakate) November 15, 2018
good morning ONLY to all the communications teams out there— Nick Pacilio (@NickPacilio) November 16, 2018
Jim Prosser, former head of corporate, revenue, and policy communications at Twitter and current comms leader at SoFi, said via email that there are two reasons for the show of solidarity.
"One: these are really tough jobs, and the Valley is small; everyone knows one another and there’s fluidity between companies, including Twitter and Facebook," he said. "Two: both companies know they’re in this larger battle of platform integrity together. There’s no world where what happens to one has no impact on usage or perception of the other."
Facebook’s list of challenges from recent months includes executive departures, data privacy and misinformation controversies, and a steep drop in its share price since this summer. Morale at Facebook has also plunged, according to an internal survey the company performs annually. Fifty-two percent of employees are optimistic about the company’s future, down from 84% a year ago.
One tech sector PR pro said many Silicon Valley executives have a "poor" understanding of communications and journalism. They are accustomed to the praise high-growth companies receive in early stages, but don’t know how to handle more critical coverage. "It’s easier to maybe say it’s a comms problem," the executive said.