From A PR Crisis To A New Conversation

2019-11-25 by Ronn Torossian
5wpr ceo

In the last few years, Facebook has been facing plenty of scandals. That, along with plenty of calls from regulators to break up this tech giant has led Facebook into a PR crisis. First, it was the scandal where Facebook had been giving its user’s information to a private consumer data company. Which meant that personal information of over 2 billion monthly users – data that people had shared on the social media platform, had been practically handed over to advertisers as a way to monetize the information.

Who Controls the Data?

Then, it came out that it wasn’t just one single company that got this information and then used it for marketing purposes – it was actually a number of companies. And finally, when the company announced that it would do more to focus on the privacy and the security of the users of the platform – the company took a plunge in the stock market. All of these scandals, coming out one after the other, ended up triggering plenty of outrage from its users, a lot of scrutiny from regulators around the world and within the US, as well as enough bad press that one would start thinking it would be the end of the company as we know it. Everyone around the world started thinking that perhaps Facebook wasn’t as invincible as everyone deemed it to be, and this would finally be its downfall.

Re-claiming your Data

Users of the platform started deleting their accounts and changing their online habits. People started really looking into the details of the terms and conditions they were required to agree upon when first joining a platform, and analyzing what all of that meant. Aside from losing support and users, Facebook tried various strategies to keep itself afloat, above all of the scandals that plagued it in such a short amount of time. And at that point in the PR crisis, Facebook resorted to using one of the oldest tricks in the book. 

Turn a bad PR day into something completely different.

So what did Facebook do? It rebranded. The familiar lowercase logo, that could be seen on the login screen, and followed users around both on desktop and on their phones, changed. The founder, Mark Zuckerberg, announced in a blog post, that the company logo was going to be changed. The new version would be colorful, and be in uppercase letters so that people can have a clearer idea about which products are owned by Facebook. Both Instagram and WhatsApp are apps that have millions of users, and both are owned by Facebook. 

But neither application has been plagued with as dire PR scandals as Facebook has. And, in an effort to improve their public image, they decided to show users that the tech giant isn’t as bad as it’s been portrayed in the news since it owns two other beloved apps. And in an instant, the public started focusing on the new logo. Facebook helped to begin to steer the conversation in a completely different direction.

Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR.

Ronn Torossian: Insights from a Native New Yorker and CEO of 5WPR

Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 20 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth, overseeing more than 250 professionals in the company's headquarters in midtown Manhattan. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named "PR Agency of the Year" by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world's most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider, and a recipient of Crain’s New York 2021 Most Notable in Marketing & PR. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and has authored two editions of his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations," which is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian lives in Manhattan with his children. He is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities