Saturday, February 6, 2010

TechCrunch Shows Its Mettle In Crisis Response

Influence and authority tends to breed corruption in the weak-minded.

Consider disgraced politicians who horded ill-gotten cash in a downstairs freezer or attempted to auction off a US senate seat. Or a NBA referee who pandered to organized crime and sports gambling interests to supplement his annual income.

The latest fish snagged in the corruption net is a relatively unassuming intern at blog publishing powerhouse TechCrunch. It was a classic payola scheme: gift me up and I’ll write a favorable post about whatever it is your company is hawking.

When exposed, TechCrunch publisher Michael Arrington had to move rapidly to preserve the integrity and credibility of his operation. And that’s exactly what he did.

TechCrunch’s response provides wonderful lessons in how to respond to a crisis with conviction:

1. Publicly disclose the transgression…and quickly.

2. Accept full responsibility. Unfortunately, it took gun toting athlete Gilbert Arenas awhile to figure this one out.

3. Explain how the situation will be remedied. At TechCrunch, Arrington yanked down every post authored by the disgraced intern, regardless of whether there was evidence the editorial process had been compromised.

4. Put in place systems and processes to guard against future incidents.

Mistakes happen. People understand that. It’s how an organization rises to deal with errors in judgment that can leave as lasting an impression.

Good show, TechCrunch. Well handled.


cparente said...

Marc -- good post and yes Arrington handled well. Incredible he was given such unfettered authority, and in this day and age there isn't any anonymity. Took all of two clicks to find name and picture. So watch what you say and do on the 'Net!

Catherine Eyres said...

I agree Marc, I think they dealt with this in exactly the right way. But they're not alone, as VodafoneUK showed on Twitter last week when one of its employees posted something highly inappropriate on the corporate Twitter account. I think these days most orgs are up front in acknowledging a problem and apologising for it – or perhaps that’s me just viewing the world through rose-tinted glasses!

Jane Jordan-Meier said...

Thanks for sharing - good case study. Tech Crunch did well - acted fast and took responsibility. They protected their repuation and reinforced their values by their swift actions. In a crisis, values are on display - Tiger Woods is but one recent example. Agree with Marc - incredible that the intern had such unfettered authority. Timely reminder that guidelines and policies need to be in place.