Monday, August 8

Crisis communications mistakes, Vol. 2

When you're getting slammed by a story, don't take your ball and go home.

That's the kind of thing you expect from a six year-old... not from a multi-billion dollar internet search giant like Google.

Reporters at CNet published a story about all of the data Google gathers on people, and how that information could at some point be really valuable. CNet went so far as to see what Google.com had to say about Google's CEO, Eric Schimdt.
...spending 30 minutes on the Google search engine lets one discover that Schmidt, 50, was worth an estimated $1.5 billion last year. Earlier this year, he pulled in almost $90 million from sales of Google stock and made at least another $50 million selling shares in the past two months as the stock leaped to more than $300 a share.
Google was not pleased with the way they were singled out, while similar search engines and internet portals were left relatively unquestioned.

What was the response? Well, it seem as though Google told CNet not to expect any interviews for one year.
(Google representatives have instituted a policy of not talking with CNET News.com reporters until July 2006 in response to privacy issues raised by a previous story.)
Shutting out the press over something like this is not the way to exert influence. It was a rash decision, and not a good one. Google works hard to promote a number of beneficial products, but this statement will linger with them for some time.

The tantrum of a six-year-old. We'll see if things are any better in a month, when Google turns seven.

[Disclosure: Google owns Blogger, which allows this forum to be possible.]

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