News broke this week that the founder and CEO of We Company, Adam Neumann, has stepped down from his position. This shift comes after a year of tumult for the company, which was founded on the notion of providing co-working spaces to workers seeking a more productive and independent working environment.
In recent months, Neumann had come under scrutiny for his financial relationship with the company as well as his “eccentric” leadership style. After a scheduled IPO was tabled earlier this year investors, including a primary funder, SoftBank, began to get nervous in the face of lower forecasted valuations. On shaky ground, Neumann hired Edelman, to come on board to handle communications.
While details are sparse on the relationship between The We Company and Edelman, the move made last week signaled Neumann’s desire to have a strong handle on the upcoming storm that was headed his way. This shake-up will certainly shift the path forward for The We Company, which has recently talked about its desire to expand into other industries such as living spaces. However, with the tumult that has clouded recent dealings, as well as speculation on the actual valuation of the company (among other issues), Edelman may be in for a hefty challenge in terms of righting the ship.
Now worth just a third of the nearly $50 billion valuation the company received last year, WeWork is facing an uphill battle in terms of winning back investor support and going after the coveted IPO that was shelved only recently.
With the removal of Neumann from his position, the company may now be able to move forward with different executive leadership in place. Should Edelman continue to be retained for public relations services, this is an opportunity to do some real work in corporate communications and shifting the perception of both the public as well as investors.
What is involved in a contract of this magnitude? Shifting attention away from the Neumann saga, for one, maybe an area of focus for Edelman or any other PR firm hired to attend to the issues at hand. With new leadership established, there is an opportunity now to begin putting out communications focusing on the way forward rather than keeping the lens trained on the past.
Proper PR practices will also be helpful when it comes to easing the concerns of investors and stabilizing the potential for a successful IPO with a higher valuation. Areas of focus such as corporate communications, promoting the successes and benefits of the company, and stabilizing the behaviors of executive leadership are all ways that a PR firm can help hone in on the improvement of public image.
For a company such as WeWork, the public eye is always a factor to consider. It can be exceedingly tough to navigate situations such as this when the potential for trouble can be seen around every corner. However, enlisting a strong public relations firm can go a long way in making progress on righting the ship and turning things around.
Only time will tell if The We Company is headed down the path to success or the path to failure, but the enlistment of the right team will certainly help them get back on track, and back in the good graces of the public.