This thing about the Uber executive drunkenly suggesting digging up dirt on journalists is an interesting observation point in the evolution of journalism in the 21st century. But rather than get into the issue of ethics and gender issues in the Silicon Valley, I’d like to point out another issue that this brings up.
It is important that companies, now more than ever, get trained and effective communicators on staff. I’m not talking about marketing executives. I’m not talking about engineers who understand how to string a sentence together. I’m not talking about some sweet young publicist (be it male or female) that can charm people at industry events with their dazzling smiles and impeccable fashion sense. I’m talking about people who know how to tell the truth even when it isn’t pretty.
In all this foofarah over Emil Michael’s sexist pseudo threat, and the on-going sexism of the Uber culture, I’m wondering where the chief communication officer is. The answer is: they don’t have one. I also note they have dozens of junior level job openings in which communicating with the public is a PART of what they are supposed to do. So there is no one at the company whose job it is to fix problems like this and none of the senior executives have a clue about how to do it right.
They invest in lobbyists to grease politicians. They invest in advertising. They invest in “community management.” But outside of that… nothing.
It would be completely understandable if Uber was an outlier, but the reality is that they are the norm, and this week, it’s their turn to demonstrate their incompetence in just having a conversation with the public.
Recently I met with a company outside of the "Silly Con Valley" who offers products and services for creating and distributing content over social media, a practice also known as content marketing. But in meeting with the C-staff I learned that not a single member of the team believes in content marketing. They believe their technology is so great that all they have to do is offer it and people will beat a path to their door.
This is why 95 percent of companies are struggling to succeed. They don’t know how to tell a story and when things go bad, they can’t figure out how to right the ship.