Uber has been making a lot of headlines lately and not all of them are complimentary. The latest news about the technology company is its SVP’s plan to hire investigative journalists and researchers to silence journalists who have been critical of the company.
While the remarks were made at an off-the-record event, executives should be prepared to see his/her comments in print…especially the inflammatory ones. Aside from the poor judgment in where and to whom the comments were made, the larger issue is the company’s reaction to negative stories.
In today’s world of dwindling reporters, perhaps social media is to blame for a false sense of being able to control the message. It’s this hubris that can cause your brand image to spin out of control. While you might be able to carefully craft the image you want through channels you can control, be mindful that you always need to be respectful of journalists and the role they play.
Uber grew quickly and enjoyed very positive business stories about its innovation, but it failed to properly handle the negative stories that were bound to come out. Instead of remaining committed to transparency and pushing through any negative stories by working with reporters, Uber instead began to look for ways to circumvent the news cycle.
During a negative news swing it’s tempting to hide behind statements and stop working with media, but learn from Uber’s mistakes and continue following positive PR practices of transparency and goodwill with the media. It will be hard to garner any goodwill (or positive stories) by retaliating against reporters who pursue negative stories.
After all, nothing guarantees you more negative news stories like going after those who write them.