What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word “Snapchat?”
If you answered “sexting!” then you have something in common with every other person on Earth who’s heard the word “Snapchat”. Marketers tried to get us into it last year, but people will always associate the name with quick, flirty texts and pictures that destroy themselves after a few seconds—no evidence, no problem. What could go wrong, right?
Yeah, OK, but app creator and company CEO Evan Spiegel would prefer that you members of the media not ask him anything about that. He’d rather you stick to talking about how shy he was in high school or how much he loves Red Bull or how he doesn’t mind living with his parents or anything other than the one subject that is the only reason you would ever want to interview him in the first place (sorry dude, but you know it’s true).
Some journalists are in a bit of a huff over this lightweight Spiegel profile in hometown paper The Palisadian-Post, primarily because of the following disclaimer:
That’s one way to (not) avoid controversy.
The reporter described Spiegel as “extremely guarded during his interview and accompanied by his public relations representative”. He also explained to Jim Romenesko that the CEO and his rep “wanted reassurances that the subject matter of the interview would strictly focus on his life in Pacific Palisades.”
We get why Spiegel doesn’t want to comment on “controversial” topics while being interviewed for a profile by a local paper. Yet Snapchat has a multitude of such issues to address, be they a lawsuit from a former colleague who claims he came up with the idea or a statement from the FBI that the app “could make young people vulnerable to predators.”
Let’s put it this way: in the future we will not expect to learn much from any statement issued by Mr. Spiegel or anyone in his organization. We will not look forward to incredibly awkward press releases that read like legal papers, and we will not expect any future interview to tell us anything about the company that we don’t already know.
Will this strategy really help minimize bad publicity? If you can’t discuss your invention, then why did you create it in the first place?
*Photo via ABC News