You work for a well-known company that is going through a rough patch. Negative press is nothing new as of late, but what do you do if a negative announcement needs to be made on the heels of additional negative press? Do you try to bury the news?
If you take a page out of Zynga’s playbook you do. Yesterday, while the eyes of journalists, bloggers, and tech junkies were turned toward Apple to watch the iPad Mini announcement, Zygna was laying off more than 100 people the day before third quarter earnings report, which equaled to about five percent of its workforce. Odd that the biggest name in social gaming thought news such as this would slip by. The company should know by now—we’ve seen it thousands of times—that keeping secrets or distracting from the truth in the digital age is near impossible, especially if you’re one of the more notable companies in an industry.
The lesson is simple: Own up to negativity. If you have to make a negative public announcement, then make it publicly and don’t try to hide the news. Because now, not only is the announcement negative, but so is your demeanor in how you published it. This is the same story that we’ve been hearing since it hit the mainstream. And there remains so many companies that still don’t get the idea that honesty, transparency, and authenticity are vital to surviving in the market these days. It was hammered into our heads back then, but apparently not hard enough because it’s still not getting through to so many—be it companies, executives, celebrities, or politicians.
Zynga has been struggling. It’s a sad story to see one of the more prominent companies in the social space experience such hardships. Layoffs coming from the company are not surprising given its performance over the past 12 months. What seems to have happened here is that the company had enough of the mountains of negative press and wanted to try and alleviate that. As a PR and social media professional who feels responsible for the reputations of our clients, I completely understand this, but the strategy was just executed poorly. Pile on the fact that there are tech journalists out there who watch companies such as Zynga with a magnifying glass, and to think this would slip past them is pure hubris.
The conclusion we can make from this occurrence is one that we’ve heard a million times. But I’m going to repeat it because it obviously bears repeating: Be transparent in your motives. Be authentic in your actions. Be responsible for the good and bad. And be honest in your words.