Maybe you’ve heard: The once-heralded Facebook IPO is in trouble and losing value by the minute. PR experts live for big, challenging cases like this one–after suffering through an economic collapse caused by over-inflated home values and bundled stocks, the public understands the pain that comes when a financial stake doesn’t live up to the hype (even if it that stake happens to double as their favorite weekday time-waster). In other words, Facebook’s money woes garner little sympathy from Main Street. There is no victim card in this game.
Today, the public loathes overvalued anything. The fact that Mark Zuckerberg is a young, idealistic and ridiculously wealthy CEO who wears the same clothes to work that we wear to rake leaves ensures that Facebook’s negative PR arc will inspire a certain Schadenfreude. You probably even have a few outraged friends who claim to be completely “over” the Facebook phenomena–especially if they take personal offense at the new compulsory timeline format. (For the record, we think your friends are full of it.)
All business ventures face challenges, but this moment is the most challenging point in Facebook’s nearly miraculous history, and they must avoid a public re-branding at all costs. This is PR time for Facebook, in a big way. The brand’s popularity is falling, its CEO’s image is taking hits from all sides, and everyone—from regular users to high-stakes investors—is wondering just how the company plans to make the hundreds of millions it is supposedly worth. After all, the public knows Facebook quite well—and for most users, the relationship doesn’t ostensibly translate into a profit.
OK, PR professionals: How would you advise Facebook handle their current crisis? What would you tell Zuck if you had his ear? This is our time to shine.